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Neighbors applaud new crossing

stroller on Grubb Rd.jpg
A mother with stroller uses Montgomery County's new crossing on Grubb Road. (Thomson)

You can see something in the eyes of drivers as they approach the pedestrian refuge that Montgomery County government has set up between the Rock Creek Forest School and the shopping center across the street. Ahead of them, Grubb Road seems to narrow. There's a crosswalk with a concrete island in the middle and lots of signs, including one with a red emblem that says "Stop" for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

The drivers fix their eyes on the crossing and moderate their speed, even when there are no pedestrians present.

Similar road-safety enhancements are appearing across Montgomery County, in busy neighborhoods or near schools. County Executive Isiah Leggett and Jeff Dunckel, the county's pedestrian safety coordinator, visited the Grubb Road crossing Tuesday morning to highlight the improvement there and publicize the traffic-calming program that is helped along by revenue from speed-camera tickets.

The Grubb Road safety crossing is a success story for the county, the neighbors and the 557-student school. Amanda Waugh, a past president of the elementary school PTA, was at the event this morning to thank the county officials. Not missing a beat, she also asked them whether the school could get a speed camera and if sidewalks could be built all along East-West Highway.

Amanda Waugh.jpg Amanda Waugh backed crosswalk. (Thomson)

You can understand why she's feeling lucky after being "pleasantly surprised" by the county's quick response to the parents' request for help at the crossing.

After school, students like to head across Grubb Road to the deli in the shopping center. The nearest crosswalk was up the hill in the opposite direction. The result was a dangerous afternoon mix of students and cars between the school and the shopping center.

When the parents first requested a new safety crossing, Waugh said, "I was not hopeful." But the response was prompt. Montgomery County's transportation department looked at the traffic volumes and speeds along Grubb Road.

The results showed that the volume was heavy, and that 38 percent of vehicles traveled at 30 mph or more in the 25 mph school zone. Police records showed that in the past five years there have been six vehicle collisions in the area and one collision involving a pedestrian, an adult who was injured in October 2009 while using the crosswalk at Colston Drive, uphill from the school.

Work on the new, protected crossing started this summer, just after school closed. Today, Waugh said, "It's gratifying to see cars slow -- actually slow -- as they approach the crosswalk."

Map shows site of Rock Creek Forest School.

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By Robert Thomson  | September 21, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  Traffic Safety  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock  
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Why are you publicizing the names and locations of people who advocated traffic calming? After the recent murders in Virginia, the Washington Post should be held liable for any harm that comes to them.

Posted by: jiji1 | September 21, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Calm down Jiji, it's not like we're in Fairfax Co. or anything. ;-)

Kudos to MoCo for putting this in, in a manner that facilitates movement of all types of vehicles - Grubb Road maintains its lanes, and a reasonable speed, and pedestrians have a safe way to cross. I think doing this on E-W Hwy, as the PTA folks may be advocating, would be overkill.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | September 21, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

The "Stop for Pedestrian" signs are confusing. I've heard that law enforcement--and the courts--treat stop signs as doesn't matter what's in the intersection, drivers must stop at stop signs. Although the "Stop for Pedestrians" signs have the octagonal red stop sign, the wording suggests they are not equivalent to traditional stop signs. Drivers only need to stop if a pedestrian is present. If the signs are intended to make drivers stop, why not just put a traditional stop sign? If they are intended to communicate that drivers should stop for pedestrians, why not have yield signs that say "Yield for Pedestrians"?

I think traditional stop signs should be used in place of the "Stop for Pedestrians". All too often drivers pass through intersections unaware that pedestrians may be present. Pedestrians would benefit from the additional protection that a stop sign would provide against inattentive drivers.

Posted by: toms7 | September 21, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

These look nice and it only seems appropriate that they are funded by those law breakers who make these traffic calming measures necessary. Let's install more cameras to catch these violators of the law so we can caonstruct more of these crossings.

Posted by: beatduke10 | September 22, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

This is great- a good story of a a responsive government- who would have thought?!

Posted by: mrose1 | September 22, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I could not disagree more with "toms7." The last thing this area (or, indeed, this country) needs is more all-way stops. We need fewer of them. One of the most annoying things about driving in the USA is the authorities' stubborn insistence on regulating the roads so as to protect the most utterly stupid and incompetent drivers. They're afraid that someone might not yield when it's necessary to do so, so they throw up a stop sign that requires you to stop even during the 80% of the time when nobody's coming on the other roads and when there is no need to stop. Then they station a baconmobile nearby to nab people who fail to heed the unnecessary stop sign.

"Stop for Pedestrians" is a perfectly acceptable sign, as long as the pedestrians act responsibly as well. It's a bilateral responsibility. The driver has the obligation to stop for the pedestrian who crosses legally, and people who fail to do so deserve tickets, but the pedestrian has to act in a responsible fashion too, meaning he is not to walk out against a "Don't Walk" sign and he also must allow drivers a reasonable amount of time to stop (meaning if a driver is just about to reach the crosswalk, it's not an appropriate time to start crossing because a car needs some space to stop). There's a real "pedestrian is always" right attitude that's been plaguing the DC area lately. In my experience, while the drivers are often in the wrong, it's most often the case that the pedestrians are usually NOT in the right.

Posted by: 1995hoo | September 22, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad that they're doing everything possible to keep these kids and other pedestrians safe! I'm especially glad they're using money from people who broke the law to pay for things that aid the people they endanger! Glad the cameras and this crosswalk are helping all around.

Posted by: ChicaInTheDMV | September 24, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

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