For Immediate Release Wednesday, November 4

Full text of letter to Secretary Rahn


For more information:

Nick Brand, 404-441-4170

Dru Schmidt-Perkins, 410-258-8601

 Transit Groups to Rahn:

Stop Building New Roads Until Old Ones Are Safe

Unsafe conditions on Maryland's roads need to be fixed before the state widens them or builds new ones, transit advocates said today in a letter to state Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn.

Six Maryland transit groups called on Rahn to order a moratorium on added highway capacity until the state corrects the obsolete designs of Maryland's dangerous roads, where a rash of pedestrian and bicyclist killings has occurred in recent days.  Signers were 1000 Friends of Maryland, the Action Committee for Transit, Baltimore Citizens Planning and Housing Association, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, Prince George's Advocates for Community-Based Transit, and Transportation for Maryland.

The transit groups pointed to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx's op-ed in last Sunday's Washington Post, where he wrote that “Metro can forget any new rail-expansion projects until it meets our safety standards.” 

“Maryland's highways are much more dangerous than Metro,” said ACT president Nick Brand.  “That's where the safety-before-expansion policy needs to be applied most urgently.” 

 Brand pointed in particular to the killings of three pedestrians on unsafe roadways within the last two weeks:

  • One-year-old Jeremiah Perry, in a stroller waiting for a bus, was killed in Baltimore Sunday night.  A car struck by a driver fleeing police caromed onto a narrow sidewalk, placed by highway engineers within inches of Moravia Road's high-speed traffic lanes.
  • 95-year-old Marge Wydro was killed on October 21 crossing MD 190 in Bethesda, a pedestrian-hostile road with a 45 mph speed limit. The crash occurred shortly after a sidewalk connection was removed, directing pedestrians to walk in a traffic lane to reach the button they must push to get the walk signal. 
  • On the same day Michelle Hoyah, 18, was killed by a southbound driver on US 29 at Oak Leaf Drive. This location, where soutbound drivers move at divided-highway speeds past a busy bus stop, has been a known danger spot for over 25 years, and Ms. Hoyah was the second pedestrian killed here in three years.  Yet the State Highway Administration has refused to install a traffic signal or even mark the crosswalks.

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The corner on MD 190 where Marge Wydro was killed, before (top) and after recent reconstruction.

“Although excessive speed and driver error played a part in each of these deaths, an absence of concern for pedestrian safety in the design of the sidewalks and the roadways makes these locations unsafe,” added Dru Schmidt-Perkins of 1000 Friends of Maryland. “The highway safety culture itself needs to be upgraded to protect pedestrians and bicyclists without discouraging walking and cycling.” 

Yet another tragic loss occurred on Saturday, when long-time ACT member Lynne Rosenbusch and her husband were killed by a drunk driver while cycling in Calvert County.