UPPER MARLBORO – After 14 years of concerns from Melwood Elementary School parents, the sidewalks will finally be constructed by Woodyard Road. Woodyard Road is a two-lane road in front of the elementary school. Parents say they want sidewalks on both sides of the road, as well as other traffic-calming solutions, to ensure the safety […]
UPPER MARLBORO – After 14 years of concerns from Melwood Elementary School parents, the sidewalks will finally be constructed by Woodyard Road.
Woodyard Road is a two-lane road in front of the elementary school. Parents say they want sidewalks on both sides of the road, as well as other traffic-calming solutions, to ensure the safety of their children as they cross the road. The school’s parking lot is small, parents said, so they sometimes need to park their cars in adjacent neighborhoods or on the shoulder of the road to drop off their children.
There are now plans to build sidewalks on both sides of Woodyard Road, according to the State Highway Administration. The design for a sidewalk along Woodyard Road between Melwood Elementary and James Madison Middle School is 65 percent complete, said Claudine Myers, chief of engineering systems and design team for SHA. Myers said the plans will most likely be finalized by the summer of next year.
Parents say the road is still too dangerous, even with the designated crosswalk and cross guard. At a PTA meeting Tuesday night, some parents said they would like to see other safety measures in place, such as installing speed bumps, bringing back a speed camera or installing traffic lights.
“I’m concerned about the traffic. It is very congested. Drivers don’t slow down with kids present,” said Micah Wortham of Clinton, who has a fourth grader at the school.
Other parents echoed the same concern, saying the road would experience more traffic as development near the school continues.
“We started a traffic-calming initiative in about 2009 with the police department,” said LaVonn Thomas, Melwood PTA president from 2008 to 2010.
Thomas said a sign was placed on the road to show drivers how fast they were driving. That sign is no longer on the road.
There also used to be a speed camera on Woodyard Road, but Maj. Ray Gordon of the Prince George’s County Police said the police routinely change the locations of speed cameras.
Gordon said the police will try to bring a flashing speed limit sign and speed camera back on the road. Gordon also said the department will assign a police officer to help students cross the road when officers are available.
PTA Presidesnt Zaneta White-Holmes said ideally parents would be able to drop off and pick up their children on school grounds.
“We want to build a bus loop so parents can have access to the school,” said White-Holmes.
Representatives from the county council, school board and local politicians who attended the PTA meeting said they are working to improve the safety of Woodyard Road.
“The county executive will ensure everything is needed and the support of SHA, so our kids will have safe travel to and from school,” said Corey Smedley, special assistant to the deputy chief administrative officer for public safety, on behalf of County Executive Rushern Baker III.
Vincent Curl, a safety officer with Prince George’s County Public Schools, said there is some funding to do improvements at the entrance of the school, as well as the school’s parking lot.
School board member Sonya Williams said the school board would keep Melwood’s desire for sidewalks in mind during the upcoming budget session.
“We will work closely with SHA and the county executive to make sure we have proper funding,” Williams said.