College Asks for Safety Measures at Campus Ave. Intersection

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Washington College is concerned about pedestrian safety at a major intersection used by students.

Jerry Roderick, the college’s Director of Public Safety, came to the Chestertown Mayor and Council Monday, Nov. 20, to outline problems at the intersection of Washington Ave. and Campus Ave. Displaying images of the busy intersection from all four directions, Roderick outlined the problems at the crosswalks and suggested ways it could be made safer.

While there is a traffic signal at the intersection, Roderick said, there is no left turn signal in any direction, requiring cars to wait for a gap in the often-heavy traffic to make a turn; this could cause them to overlook pedestrians in the crosswalk, who would be crossing with the light. Also, southbound traffic approaching the intersection for a right turn has poor visibility because of a large electrical box on the corner, partially shielded by bushes. This means pedestrians crossing from campus to the alumni house may not be visible before the car is making the turn. Also, given the flow of traffic, pedestrians sometimes “wait for a break, then dart across.”

There are approximately 225 students, faculty, and staff who use the intersection on a daily basis, Roderick said, many of them to attend classes in Cromwell Hall on the east side of Washington Ave, A fair number of Kent County Middle School students also cross at that point in the morning and mid-afternoon, going to and from school. And as one of the main routes through town, the road is heavily traveled, with a considerable number of trucks going through town.

Roderick suggested three measures to improve pedestrian safety at the crossing.  A separate left turn signal for traffic would unclog the intersection and reduce the number of vehicles trying to beat the light. Also, signs prohibiting right turns on red would reduce the number of times pedestrians crossing with the light have to deal with turning traffic. Finally, he suggested, a four-way stop signal allowing pedestrians to cross in all directions would improve safety, especially when large numbers of students need to cross for classes in Cromwell.

Several council members agreed that the intersection presents problems. Councilwoman Linda Kuiper said the lack of a left turn signal often makes her wait several changes of the light before she can turn.

Councilwoman Liz Gross agreed there are problems, but she pointed out that Washington Ave. is a state road, so any changes will require the State Highway Administration to act. She said any study by the SHA should be conducted while there are students on campus so the agency can see the nature of the problem.

Councilman Marty Stetson said the majority of accidents involving cars and pedestrians are the pedestrian’s fault, but he added that the college students he had observed seem particularly aware of safety and use appropriate caution crossing the street. He said there was a study by SHA several years ago, but nothing came of it.

Mayor Chris Cerino said the best approach would be for the college to send the council a letter outlining its concerns and proposed remedies for the council to endorse and forward to SHA. Roderick said he would follow up with a letter and appreciated the town’s cooperation in trying to solve the problems.

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Letters to Editor

  1. It should also be noted that there is a serious problem of both jaywalking, and illegal parking on this street that makes it HIGHLY dangerous to maneuver this road for drivers as well. What are the plans to address those issues? I drop a professor off at the Toll center daily. Every single day pulling out from Toll onto Campus, there are cars parked in the yellow on both sides, making it impossible to see if traffic is coming from either side, and countless times I’ve had students jump out into the road between the parked cars.

  2. Cheryl Bennek says:

    Also, why is there a crosswalk with no signal on the north side of that intersection when the one on the south does have a crossing signal? I have seen people crossing Washington Ave. from both sides of that intersection causing traffic to come to a complete halt if anyone wants to turn either direction. Limiting a cross walk to one side of the intersection, and a red light when the cross signal is given may help as well. Also, how many problems have been at this intersection compared with Cross St./Maple Ave. ?

  3. Chris Kelsch says:

    I lived at 223 Washington Ave. for several years, untill recently.I spent countless hours on the phone with SHA, and state police traffic enforsement trying to get Gasoline trucks sloed down at this location. What nobody mentions is that when a fully loaded tractor trailor is coming down the hill, and that light turns yellow they speed up to “beat” the light….We sat on our porch from 2011, untill 2017 watching the danger get worse, worse.I was told I exsagerated the speed of the trucks…but living there, I know they push 50 plus MPH trying to beat that light coming down the long hill. Bottom line is this: The state ignored all my concerns, the law enforsement people said they only have one officer to cover so much area. Just a matter of time before a tragedy. RUMBLE strips at halfway down the hill, and TRUE enforsement of 25MPH law. only thing that will avert tragedy

    • Ellen Simmons says:

      When the light turns green for Campus Avenue traffic, turning onto Washington Avenue is still a hazard. I have had near misses of being t-boned, with trucks, vans, and cars blowing through the red light. Any thought to a camera, ala Morgnec Road?

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