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Enhancements coming for Route 1 in College Park

Tuesday - 7/15/2014, 6:32am  ET

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The Maryland State Highway Administration has announced a series of safety enhancements for a troubled section of Route 1 in College Park.

Already this year, three people have been killed trying to walk across the road, which runs along the University of Maryland.

Planned changes target the speed limit, mid-block crossings and an additional pedestrian signal.

"The focus right now is to get something in before school starts," says Melinda Peters, the State Highway Administrator.

The first change, set to take effect July 31, lowers the speed limit from 30 to 25 mph between Guilford Road/Guilford Drive and Berwyn Road.

About the time students return to class for the fall semester, a temporary median fence will go up between Knox and Hartwick roads.

By late October, an overhead flashing pedestrian signal is scheduled to be installed at Route 1 and Hartwick Road.

"The improvements will make a dramatic impact on the safety of Route 1 next to the University of Maryland," says Wallace Loh, the university president.

The SHA notes it has already finished a number of safety enhancements, including the repainting of crosswalks, new curb markings warning pedestrians "Don't Cross" in the middle of the block and automated pedestrian walk signs.

Route 1 has been beset by a number of challenges.

The corridor is a go-to spot for college nightlife, and alcohol has played a part in the deadly incidents.

Loh points out even cultural norms are at play.

Students are wont to peer down at their phones, occasionally oblivious to their surroundings. Additionally, they are accustomed to drivers stopping wherever they cross a road on campus, which doesn't apply on a state highway.

This week, the College Park City Council will vote on a proposal that would expand the times speed cameras operate once the new limit is in effect. The extra hours would coincide with heavy pedestrian traffic.

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