Route 1 in Howard is likely to see upgrades in the coming years to improve safety for bikers and pedestrians.
The highway, once dubbed “Dead Man’s Curve,” was studied by the Howard County Office of Transportation and a report released this week is recommending more than $2 million in safety improvements.
The nearly 11-mile strip between the Prince George’s and Baltimore county borders has had 54 pedestrian-related crashes between 2012 and 2016 — six of which resulted in seven deaths, making it the deadliest spot in Howard for pedestrians, according to Chris Eatough, the county’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator.
Curves in the road, speeding and a lack of sidewalks in an increasingly residential zone have been cited as factors in the crashes.
The report, US 1 Safety Evaluation on Bicyclists and Pedestrian Safety, recommends installing two, one-way buffered bike lanes between the Prince George’s line and Whiskey Bottom Road, a pedestrian-activated traffic signal at Brewers Court and installation of sidewalks and upgraded pedestrian signals at Guilford Road and Rowanberry Drive. These spots were chosen because of “historical crash trends and need of improvement in pedestrian facilities to concentrate resources,” according to the report done by Sabra & Associates, a Columbia-based engineering firm..
The individual projects would be complete within two years and would cost $2.135 million. The county has partial funding from the capital budget and has requested funding from the state, according to Eatough.
“I’m very pleased with the project but it doesn't touch on some of the bigger concerns,” said Councilman Jen Terrasa, who represents the district.
Terrasa said she wants to include in future projects a pedestrian bridge connecting Route 1 and Troy Hill Park in Elkridge.
“[That spot] is just not pedestrian friendly,” she said.
The increasingly residential strip houses a growing population that relies on walking and bus transit, making it hard for pedestrians and bikers to exist alongside vehicles, the report said. An average of 29,000 vehicles use the highway each day.
The route has restaurants, hotels and less than a mile of sidewalks on both sides. Only 4.6 miles has sidewalks on one side and six miles have no sidewalks. The strip has 36 bus stops and 20 in close proximity. Only eight bus stops have lighting.
“We have been engaged with the public throughout this project because it is important for us to understand what residents need and the impacts of various options,” Executive Allan Kittleman said in a statement. “We want to make sure we move forward in ways that will benefit them and the surrounding community.”
The county analyzed the route during the day and twilight hours and incorporated 143 comments collected at two community meetings and online. Respondents complained that about the lack of safe crossings for paired bus stops and sidewalks.
Eatough said Howard is in the process of securing additional funding from the State Highway Administration to complete the project.