HYATTSVILLE – The Hyattsville Corridor Community met on Nov. 14 in City Hall to establish timelines for the completion of key redevelopment projects along Queens Chapel Road.
The major hurdle in finishing the project was the installation of a much-anticipated traffic light at the intersection of Queens Chapel Road and Nicholson Street, which has been delayed due to shipping and supply issues.
At the meeting, Assistant District Engineer of Traffic Maryland State Highway Administration Peter Campanides estimated that the traffic light would not arrive for at least eight months. When pressed for a reason, he said the delay had to do with foreign affairs.
“[It’s] because of the trade war, and because of what’s happening between us and China,” Campanides said. “They supply the steel.”
Although the Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA) passed a Redline Revision allowing the contractors to go forward with a revised budget, it would take at least six months for the next shipment of steel to arrive, and another two to install the signal.
The issue extends beyond the light itself, as the state must also design and build bays at the intersection for waiting cars to make turns in both directions. However, eight months is practically nothing compared to the time that has already taken place, Campanides said.
On Jan. 17, citizens packed into the same room in the Municipal Building and applauded as MSHA Administrator Gregory Slater announced the new traffic signal at Queens Chapel and Nicholson. This was the culmination of decades of lobbying and effort by Hyattsville community leaders.
“According to some, it was as much as 30 years ago,” said Campanides. “Last year, we had a meeting, and the request came up again. We did an evaluation and we found out that a signal was justified, finally…that the traffic volumes were there.”
Pedestrian safety dominated the second half of the meeting. Among the other projects in the works are three more crosswalks, to be added at the intersections of Queens Chapel Road and Manorwood Drive as well as Oliver Street and the East-West Highway, respectively.
Prince George’s County has been criticized for not providing enough crosswalks and Hyattsville is no exception. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority, the number of pedestrian deaths in the county has grown every year since 2015, topping out at 25 in 2017.
“Watch out for cars,” said Committee Head Yvette Shaw. “Some people think that they are entitled to step out. No, you’re not.”
However, Public Works Project Manager for Hyattsville Hal Metzler does not blame only the streetlights for the pedestrian deaths increase.
“We’ve gotten complaints about the signals being too short,” said Metzler. “I’ve actually gone out and observed these intersections. Most people don’t push the button. When you don’t, the light is only green long enough for a car to make the move.”