BOWIE – It is unfortunate for local residents to go out for a walk in their community and suddenly have the sidewalk in front of them end abruptly. The only thing between the person and a bunch of speeding cars is a thin white line. Such are the conditions in Bowie and the local residents […]
BOWIE – It is unfortunate for local residents to go out for a walk in their community and suddenly have the sidewalk in front of them end abruptly. The only thing between the person and a bunch of speeding cars is a thin white line.
Such are the conditions in Bowie and the local residents want these circumstances to change immediately.
At the Bowie city council meeting on Nov. 23, the council was approached by many local residents who addressed their concern over poor pedestrian conditions on some segments of the Mitchellville Road corridor.
“Before CVS moved to Mitchellville Road from the Pointer Ridge Plaza, many people would walk to the CVS and now it is very difficult for them to do,” said Jackie Lord, member of the Community Association of South Bowie. “I find it to be a very dangerous road because the sidewalks are minimal to nonexistent in that area.
“People are walking and biking on Mount Oak Road, day and night, and it is a hazard because the side of the road is very narrow. At nighttime I can barely see the people who are biking until I’m right on top of them.”
Other residents shared their dismay with local roads that have become a burden to their daily commute to work and back.
“It is a dangerous road as it is now,” said Bowie resident Russ Ideo. “The people who do walk on Mitchellville Road are doing it at their own risk. When people walk, they are on the white line and the cars are just about missing them as they go around, especially the part that is in deplorable condition.”
Ideo said one day as he was driving, he tried to use the shoulder and saw a pedestrian at the last minute.
“There was somebody there and I had to swerve to miss them,” Ideo said.
He asked the city council to get this issue on the agenda as soon as possible because Mitchellville Road really needs attention.
Duff Durkin, president of the Community Association of South Bowie (CASB), said the improvement of sidewalks on Mitchellville Road has been brought up at their CASB meetings and residents are interested in the “walkability” in the community.
“A mother had a stroller on Mitchellville Road and ran into trouble when she ran out of sidewalk to walk on,” Durkin said. “A lot of residents would be interested in being able to walk to the newly built CVS over there. In light of this, I think this would be an excellent project, although expensive, but we ask that the council use the city dollars to help support this initiative.”
At the council meeting, the city staff prepared maps using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and produced a narrative and general condition rating for each segment in the corridor. The map presented identified where hiker-biker trails and sidewalks exist in the corridor, as well as where three specific, non-contiguous locations of pedestrian facilities do not exist. The locations include US Route 301 to Pittsfield Lane on the south side, the north side of CVS, and Mitchellville Road.
“It is not going to be fast,” said City Manager David Deutsch. “Bowie city staff met with some county staff and they are recognizing there’s a significant need there. More and more people are interested in safe pedestrian access to various activities and amenities, as well as just walking for recreation. These locations are difficult to get to as the citizens said at the meeting.”
The city council will pursue the objective for Fiscal Year 2016 which is to develop a strategy to construct sidewalks or hiker-biker trails the full length of Mitchellville Road from Rt. 301 to Rt. 197 within five years.
Deutsch said the city council has already sent a letter to Prince George’s County Councilmember Todd Turner requesting a project to install new and upgraded sidewalks, as well as improved crosswalks at signalized intersections on Mitchellville Road. “Hopefully it will rise amongst all the other competing projects and be added to the county’s capital improvement program as soon as possible,” Deutsch said.
Dennis Brady, previous Bowie councilmember, said this is something that he has known about for many years.
“This is something I noticed in the 21 years I’ve been on council,” Brady said. “Yes, it is an expensive item and it would be great if the county steps up and did it since it’s their responsibility. It’s their road. If they are not able then I think the city needs to step forward and leverage some city tax dollars to do it because it’s a problem that doesn’t need to continue.”
Brady was prompted to focus on this issue when he saw a 5K city walk/run being held by C. Elizabeth Rieg. The event included participants of all ages, along with people who are disabled and handicapped.
“Part of their route was on Mitchellville Road between Pillar Road and Peach Walker Road,” Brady said. “They were in the middle of the road running and walking with traffic and I think it’s unconscionable to let it go forward like that.”
A meeting will be scheduled in the next several months. Meanwhile, Deutsch said, the city will do all it can on its own to improve city streets that intersect with Mitchellville Road by adding crosswalks parallel to Mitchellville Road and stop bars/signs, as appropriate. The City of Bowie planning staff will also meet with city public works staff to review the specific locations where improvements should be considered.