Traffic calming measures under review for Jefferson and Nicholson Streets

Monday, September 2, 2019

The 3900 block of Jefferson Street, where residents have petitioned for traffic calming measures. Photo courtesy of Sophie Oriani.

By SOPHIE GORMAN ORIANI — At the Aug. 5 Hyattsville City Council meeting, the council voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing about traffic calming measures on the 3900 block of Jefferson Street and the 4200 block of Nicholson Street. The hearing, which will be Oct. 7 at 7 p.m., will allow the public to provide comments about the potential change.

If the residents of a block wish to have their opinions about  traffic calming measures considered, the Hyattsville code allows them to submit a petition to the city. The petition must be circulated among the residents of the block in question and the blocks directly on either side. Moreover, if the block “provides the only means of ingress and/or egress for other streets,” those streets must also be included in the petition. Sixty percent of the houses must sign the petition.

In their petition, which reached more than an 80 percent signature rate, residents of the 4200 block of Nicholson Street stated their concern for the safety of more than 10 children below the age of 10 who live on the block. The petition also describes motorists who speed frequently and a dog that was hit and killed last year.

Bart Lawrence, city councilmember of Ward 1, where the relevant block is located, said in an Aug. 14 email, “The process for requesting traffic calming measures was revamped about six years ago to make the final decisions based more on data and the knowledge of our professional staff. If my memory is correct, since these changes were enacted, Council has always accepted staff’s recommendation.”

The petition for the 3900 block of Jefferson Street also reached above an 80 percent signature rate. It cites a host of concerns about drivers along Jefferson Street who speed, pass other cars unsafely, damage cars parked along the street and fail to come to a complete stop at stop signs. Backing up those assertions, a City of Hyattsville Transportation Plan WikiMap records multiple complaints about the behavior of drivers at the intersection of Jefferson Street and 40th Avenue.

According to the petition, Jefferson Street is a major throughway, with many people going to Magruder Park having to cross Jefferson Street at 39th or 40th Avenue. Moreover, many area children walking to both the elementary and middle schools traverse Jefferson Street on their way to school.

“For a residential street, Jefferson gets a high volume of traffic. Within the last six months, we have seen several accidents on Jefferson between 39th and 40th, including a high speed collision into a telephone pole,” wrote City Councilmember Danny Schaible (Ward 2) in an Aug. 14 email. Schaible lives on Jefferson Street and signed the petition. “I support my neighbors who took the initiative to try and calm traffic and reduce the likelihood of future accidents on this street.”

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