Naylor Road Metro can be safer for pedestrians
Pedestrian access to the Naylor Road Metro station is dangerous and the safety mechanisms currently in place are inadequate, including a walk signal facing into the woods. While Naylor Road is a priority site for TOD in Prince George's County, there are several short-term solutions the county can implement to improve pedestrian safety now.
The Prince George's County Planning Department presented the results of a recent study on pedestrian safety at a public meeting last Thursday. The study identified current problems with pedestrian access and developed a toolbox of potential solutions.
Many sections of Branch Avenue and Naylor Road have long stretches without a place for pedestrians to safely cross. In other sections, there is a sidewalk on only one side of the road or it is narrow. This forces some residents to walk along the shoulder or risk crossing without a crosswalk.
Last year, the driver of a car struck and killed a pedestrian who was walking to Naylor Road. In that incident, deep snow piles were blocking the sidewalk from use.
Access to Naylor Road from the District side of
Western Southern Avenue is similarly difficult. Branch Avenue passes under Suitland Parkway, but there aren't adequate facilities for pedestrians or cyclists. Accessing the bus can also be difficult as many bus stops have no direct sidewalk access or are on uneven ground.
The most effective way to protect pedestrians is to create pedestrian refuges. Medians, for example, can provide a halfway point to pause when crossing busy streets. They can also help to slow turning cars.
Other solutions include timed walk signals, sidewalk bulbouts, leading pedestrian intervals (keeping all lights red to allow for pedestrian crossing), and increased crossing opportunities. Bike lanes, trails, and clear markings can improve bike safety as well.
The Prince George's Planning Department won a $30,000 grant from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and hired Kittelson & Associates to conduct the study. The county has some money available to implement improvements but would have to identify additional funding sources. Costs range from $300 per "Yield to Pedestrians" sign to $40,000 per pedestrian countdown signal.
The study also overlaps with the Maryland State Highway Administration's (SHA) streetscape study of Branch Avenue and Naylor Road, which are both state roads. WMATA is currently studying the Naylor Road station in order to improve pedestrian access and identify bus and parking capacity there. Representatives from both agencies were also at Thursday's meeting.
This adds some complexity and difficulty to the planning process because it requires coordination across multiple levels of government. For example, the National Park Service controls Suitland Parkway, but has only taken initial steps to study bike improvements along that route. Alternatively, coordination between SHA and WMATA could also create more funding sources and speed up improvements.
Presenters at the meeting alluded to future development at the Naylor Road station, and this could also catalyze some improvements. One proposal includes a 9-story office building and a 6-story office building on the east side of Branch Avenue, as well as 1-story retail along Branch Avenue. New development here could potentially attract a federal tenant and create higher demand for bike and pedestrian improvements.
Unfortunately there were not many residents at last week's meeting, but residents can continue to comment on the Kittelson project page until Thursday, April 21.
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