|Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane would be proud|
of how the MoCo cartel and SHA replaced
45 MPH speed limits signs with these new
35 MPH signs in the dead of night without
informing the public
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
SHA slashes River Road speed limit without public input, violates safety protocols
Under pressure from local officials, the Maryland State Highway Administration arbitrarily reduced the speed limit along River Road from 45 MPH to 35 MPH between Springfield Drive and the Capital Beltway. In doing so, the SHA not only made clear it has fully transitioned from a professional traffic engineering-driven department to a fully political office, but also illegally sidestepped the public process and safety protocols required for such a change.
Not a single SHA-sponsored public meeting was held on a proposal to reduce the speed limit to 35 MPH for the entire stretch between the Beltway and Westbard. That proposal was never even floated to the public. There had been discussions of either lowering the speed limit or installing speed cameras only near the River and Braeburn Parkway intersection, where three people died in a collision caused by a westbound driver who was going more than double the 45 MPH speed limit, at several public meetings hosted by members of the community near Whitman - not by the SHA.
The public was not privy to whatever discussions transpired privately over the last few weeks between local officials and the SHA. In fact, the SHA hasn't done squat yet on the actual project it had proposed for the intersection in question. So much for concern about safety.
Instead, the cartel and SHA went out late last week and pulled something out of Boss Hogg's Dukes of Hazzard playbook: quietly yanking out the 45 MPH signs and replacing them with 35 MPH signs - without telling anyone!
Traffic engineering protocols require that drivers be alerted to such a change, in advance and at the start of enforcement, via digital or traditional signage. Instead, the power grab appears to also be a money grab. Readers have reported that police are already pulling over and ticketing drivers in the new 35 MPH zone. Such tickets could be challenged in court because of the SHA's illegal, hazardous and reckless actions.
In addition, that stretch of River Road is engineered for a speed limit of at least 45 or 50 MPH. It is a divided highway with few cross streets west of Whittier Boulevard to the Beltway. Because of the design, much like the Palisades speed trap on MacArthur Boulevard in the District, it is very difficult to maintain 35 MPH (except during rush hour, in which one is often lucky to attain 35 along there). So it's a clear money grab for the County to place an artificially-low speed limit on that route, aiming to take longtime drivers who know the limit is 45 by surprise.
We expect this type of behavior from the Montgomery County cartel, in their developer-driven War on Cars and War on Pedestrians (in downtown Bethesda). But the SHA has brought shame to itself and Governor Hogan with this dangerous action on River Road. We expect SHA, like the old MCDOT before developers seized control of the department, to be professional arbiters who make judgments based on sound traffic engineering principles - not political favors.
Not surprisingly, the SHA declined to respond to inquiries made around 7:00 AM Monday morning regarding its violation of process and safety protocols on River Road. It has only commented publicly to media outlets that have not questioned them on those violations. I hope they'll respond today, and I will print their response should they provide one. For now, we are entering a dangerous time in Montgomery County and Maryland, where a wealthy and corrupt few have hijacked our public institutions, and have cut the taxpaying public entirely out of the very processes our community and society are based upon.