The Prince George’s County Council discussed substantial budget increases Tuesday for the 2024 fiscal year targeting road safety projects amid recent pedestrian-related traffic accidents across the county.
Under the proposed budget, the county is expected to invest more than $41 million in pedestrian safety— an 89 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. Additional projects in the proposed budget also aim to address pedestrian safety concerns.
The proposed budget includes a $21 million federal grant to address pedestrian safety along seven “high injury” corridors in the county, including Adelphi Road in College Park. Communities along the Blue Line corridor will also receive $12 million for pedestrian and bike safety measures, including safer bike lanes and sidewalks.
The investments are part of a broader 56 percent increase in spending by the county’s public works and transportation department.
Michael Johnson, the director of the county’s department of public works and transportation, acknowledged the rise in pedestrian accidents in recent months. He hopes future investment in the budget will help prevent these accidents moving forward.
“Our pedestrian safety improvements…[are] to address some of the more dangerous roadways in the county that have had unfortunate conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles,” Johnson said.
Recent accidents involving pedestrians in the county have reignited calls for greater emphasis on traffic cameras and traffic lights. On March 7, Wise High School senior Cayliy Haygood was killed in a car accident on Ritchie Marlboro Road in Upper Marlboro. Due to the road’s history of accidents, local leaders are in the process of adding traffic cameras and traffic lights on the road, according to District 6 council member Wala Blegay.
In addition to pedestrian safety, safer roadways are a priority moving forward for the county.
Johnson added that the county’s public works and transportation department is driving on roads and assessing sidewalks throughout the county to quantify pavement quality and help determine future projects.
“If you understand the problem, then you can come up with a definable cost and schedule for addressing it,” Johnson said.
The county is also expected to make significant improvements to Maryland Route 210, including widening traffic lanes and modifying traffic signal patterns.
While some council members commended the investments, others expressed frustration regarding the timeline of some of the proposed projects.
District 1 council member Tom Dernoga noted that a county council plan to install more cameras across the county more than a year ago has yet to be implemented.
“On Briggs Chaney Road, there’s like an accident a week … and people are looking at me asking ‘why didn’t the camera go up?’” Dernoga said. “It’s an embarrassment.”
The concerns from Dernoga come amidst growing pressures by county residents to add traffic cameras. On Monday, in response to these calls, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed HB-435, a bill to increase the number of traffic cameras on Route 210, into law.
Similarly, District 5 council member Jolene Ivey discussed difficulties in receiving support for simple sidewalk repair projects in her district.
A sidewalk repair on Landover Road should not take more than a year to complete, Ivey said.
The proposed 2024 fiscal year budget is expected to be debated by the county council over the next two weeks before formal adoption on May 25.