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Major Safety Changes Ahead For College Park’s Rt. 1

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — Pedestrian deaths are sparking big safety changes for Route 1 in College Park.

Derek Valcourt has details of the plans that state and university officials are hoping can save lives.

A lower speed limit, flashing lights and a fence in the median. These are all designed to reduce the number of people getting struck by cars crossing the busy road.

Twenty-one-year-old Janelle Oni was the latest to die crossing a busy and dangerous stretch of Route 1 near the University of Maryland. Police say she was struck by a drunk driver as bars were closing for the night. Her family was devastated and pleading for something to be done to improve the same stretch of road where already two other college students have been struck and killed this year.

“So I hope that things change because families are hurt by this,” Oni said.

After studying the problem for months, State Highway officials announced by the end of July, they would lower the speed limit in the danger zone to 25 miles per hour.

By the time classes start in the fall, a temporary median fence will be put up to keep people from jaywalking across Route 1, forcing them to use marked intersections.

In late October, at the intersection where Oni died, they’ll install a new flashing yellow light that will turn red when pedestrians want to cross.

“The fence would help, especially when it comes to pedestrians running in the middle of the street when we are drunk at night,” said student Shatiera McPherson. “I think the fence would definitely work.”

University officials say they will expand an education campaign asking students to be smart and safe while crossing Route 1.

“This requires a change in not just attitudes but in culture, that you can cross the campus right now and all the cars stop, all the vehicles stop for pedestrians,” said University of Maryland President Wallace Loh.

More warning signs have already been added to the area and campus police have stepped up patrols.

The city council will vote this week to expand the hours their speed cameras operate to accommodate the peak times at night when people are crossing the road.

State Highway officials say they plan to study a long-term replacement to the temporary fence they will put up in the median of Route One.

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