Bowie City Council hears $3.4M plan to renovate Race Track Road

jochavez@capgaznews.com

Prince George’s County officials unveiled a $3.4 million plan Monday designed to improve pedestrian safety, alleviate traffic and deter speeding motorists along a busy corridor of Race Track Road.

The biggest changes of the proposal would widen the road to include a two-way left turn lane, install 90-degree curbs and LED street lights and flank the road with a shared-use path on one side and a sidewalk on the other.

The renovations would stretch from Marquette Lane to Clearfield Lane.

“What we wish to do with this project is, first and foremost, improve pedestrian safety,” said Erv Beckert, chief of the highway and bridge design division, in a presentation to Bowie City Council. “(We want to) improve how vehicles move up and down this roadway and access and utilize the intersections.”

Dense traffic in the morning, afternoon and after Sunday services has long been a nuisance for pedestrians and motorists alike where Yorktown, Grace Baptist Church and Christian School and Church of the Redeemer bunch together.

Before unveiling their proposal, which is still in the planning phase, county officials gauged the community’s sentiment on the issue at a public information meeting at Yorktown in May.

Councilman Michael Esteve said while his constituents are on board with improving pedestrian and bike safety, they would also like to see traffic-calming measures put in place. Motorists are known to drive rapidly along the relatively straight road, even during rush hour.

The speed limit along the route never exceeds 35 mph.

A speed camera has been in place for several years, but Beckert also proposed new traffic lights for the schools and churches, as well as reconstructing Yorktown’s parking lot.

Some people may think more traffic lights is counter-intuitive to alleviating traffic, he said, but the extra measure of control over traffic flow will “create gaps” that will keep vehicles flowing at a steady pace, discourage speeding and let residents of the adjacent neighborhoods enter and exit the roadway more efficiently.

“When you add curb sections, reduce lane widths and coral the vehicles, you slow them down,” Beckert said.

The county is also looking at ways to modify the offset intersection where Race Track Road meets Marquette Lane and Idlewild Lane. Currently, two different sets of traffic lights operate in congruence with each other as each road meets the main route.

“As a civil engineer, I really hate the way this is configured," Beckert said. “It’s not safe, it’s an offset intersection and when you (put traffic signals in) an offset intersection, you really invite a whole host of problems.”

Adding turn lanes and modifying how the traffic lights function could be answers, but no solution has been officially endorsed yet.

“Trying to get all these concerns out in a single project is a little challenging,” Esteve said. “But it sounds like the project managers are very open to feedback. I'll be scheduling meetings between them and residents within the next several months, so hopefully it works out well.”

If approved, the project is slated to begin construction in mid-2021 and finish in late 2022.

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