Rhode Island Ave. Bike Lane Project Takes Big Step

A big stretch of Rhode Island Avenue will soon be College Park property, paving the way for an ambitious overhaul of the roadway intended to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

PSA: Purple Line work intensifies in College Park

Purple Line construction is ramping up in College Park, with a slate of road and lane closures, as well as bus realignment, scheduled to accommodate work in the weeks and months ahead. 

Starting on March 2, workers will reduce Campus Drive between Paint Branch Trail and River Road to one lane, with flagging to control two-way traffic, on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On March 9, workers will then close Presidential Drive between Campus Drive and Championship Lane on the University of Maryland campus for utility relocations expected to last about 9 weeks. The same day, crews will close two lanes on Adelphi Road, leaving two lanes open, for about three months. 

Interactive map: Purple Line road closures, bus changes in College Park

According to College Park city officials, Campus Drive between Baltimore Avenue and River Road will be completely shut down from late May to August 2020 as workers essentially re-dig the roadway rail underpass to allow for the Purple Line trainsets to travel underneath. The closure will sever the east-west motor-vehicle connection from downtown College Park to the College Park Metro Station’s bus bays. As a result, bus service coming to the station by way of Route 1 will instead use the relatively-disused bus bays on the west side of the station from Calvert Road. Because of that, College Park City Council is considering a measure to remove speed bumps from Calvert Road. 

The nearly 16-mile, 21-station Purple Line is expected to open first in Prince George’s County between Langley Park and New Carrollton in 2022.

Hyattsville gets $339,500 for Call-A-Bus program

Hyattsville has received a $339,500 grant to boost its accessible transportation options. The grant is from the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board for the Enhanced Mobility Grants Program. With the funds, Hyattsville officials plan to expand its curb-to-curb and shared-ride transportation by buying new wheelchair accessible buses and tweaking existing agreements with Route 1 Corridor Villages for residents of Hyattsville and neighboring communities. The initiative is a part of the City’s three-year Age-Friendly Action Plan, designed to make Hyattsville a more livable community for seniors and people with disabilities. The Age-Friendly Action Plan was adopted by Hyattsville Council in January 2019.

Metrorail cars parked in Hyattsville could become bar, somewhere

Since at least September 2019, two retired Washington Metro railcars have been collecting dust – and a bit of graffiti – in an abandoned gas station lot near the West Hyattsville Metro station on Ager Road. But someday, somewhere, they might be transformed into a bar or restaurant, presumably gracing the grounds of a hip new development. By chance, Route 1 Reporter happened upon the cars Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, as workers appeared to be preparing them for transport. The cars bear the serial numbers 5059 and 5058, and the work underway appeared to be cutting each car in half to fit on wide-load trailers.

A photo, taken from the center lane of the Baltimore Avenue-slash-Route 1 corridor looking directly south from the intersection of Oglethorpe Street and Baltimore Avenue, shows an urban vista. The green hills of Bladensburg are in the far distance, set against a cloudy evening sky and above a ribbon of roadway. Nearer to the photographer, an urban streetscape reveals row-houses and mid-rise commercial buildings south of Madison Street set against tree-lined sidewalks. Light traffic is seen on the roadway.

Prince George’s traffic deaths rose sharply in 2019

2019 was a much deadlier year on Prince George’s County roadways, according to data from the Prince George’s County Police Department. Traffic deaths across the entire county rose 76 percent in 2019, climbing from 38 total deaths in 2018 to 67 in 2019. Among those 67 deaths are 21 pedestrians killed by motorists, up 40 percent from 15 pedestrian deaths in 2018. The remaining 46 traffic deaths in 2019 in Prince George’s County were non-pedestrians. 

It is unclear from year-end police statistics provided to Route 1 Reporter how many cyclists were among the last two years’ traffic fatalities. Prince George’s County Police Department’s records do not break out cyclist incidents into their own category, according to a police spokesperson.

Transit briefs: Hyattsville eyes bike racks, bus service

Hyattsville is trying to expand its network of familiar yellow bike racks. The first round of this fiscal-year’s bike rack requests have been submitted to Arrow Bicycles for consideration, according to City Administrator Tracey Douglas. Hyattsville partners with Arrow Bicycle on the project. Under Hyattsville Bike Rack Request program, businesses and commercial property owners are able to apply for one or more free bike racks to be installed on or near their properties. The racks must be kept available for public use at any time.

Hyattsville might axe free Shuttle-UM passes

Hyattsville City Council appears split on the future of a $6,000 program that lets Hyattsville residents ride the University of Maryland’s bus system for free. During discussion at its Dec. 2, 2019, council meeting of a budget measure that would fund the program for another year, some Hyattsville City Council members questioned the cost, noting only about 150 people applied for passes in 2018. 

“While I certainly understand that there are folks who are riding this, I think for me it really comes down to whether or not this is a good use of taxpayer money “For the few folks who do make use of it,” said Councilor Carianna Suiter during deliberations. “Or whether there is a better way we could use those…dollars to invest in ways that would affect more members of our community.” Two years ago, Hyattsville had a similar debate about the program.