Md. Highway Engineers Work on Stretch of Rte. 1 That Has Seen Many Crashes

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Jacky Luangraj, 33, from Manassas, Virginia, faces 13 charges, including negligent auto homicide while under the influence, in the latest crash.

    After the death of a pedestrian in College Park -- in an area that has seen several crashes and near-crashes -- state highway officials say they are planning to build a "median barrier" in the road to deter people walking outside of the crosswalk.

    A barrier was one of the solutions that College Park residents and the families of victims had sought to try to stem the number of pedestrian accidents on Route 1 near the University of Maryland.

    And it's one of several solutions that Maryland State Highway Adminstrators are planning after the latest crash, in which a 21-year-old pedestrian, Janelle Marie Oni, was struck and killed.

    Oni, from Randallstown, Maryland, had just graduated from Salisbury University. Her sorority sisters in Delta Sigma Theta said the young woman had a passion for dancing and had helped found a campus ministry for women. 

    In this latest case, alcohol, not road engineering, may have been at fault, police said. The driver had a blood alcohol two times over the legal limit, police said.

    Jacky Luangraj, 33, from Manassas, Virginia, faces 13 charges, including negligent auto homicide while under the influence.

    But the idea of a "wall" has come up after strings of pedestrian crashes near where Oni was struck on Route 1, where pedestrians are common, the traffic fast and bars popular with University of Maryland students are close to the roadway.

    A University of Maryland student-run petition called for a wall alongside -- not in the middle -- of Route 1 at Knox Road in April after four pedestrian crashes in 10 months. The idea was supported by Maryland's Student Government Association.

    State highway engineers found that plan unworkable, said David Buck, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration. But they've been working to try to keep pedestrians safe and discourage jaywalking, including improving signage and pavement markings.

    Now they will try to create a median barrier high enough to discourage anyone who might go over it.

    And the median barrier isn't the only change that highway engineers plan to make. They are also:

    • Evaluating overhead lighting, including that are owned by the county, state and university
    • Designing a new flashing yellow light with a sign that reads “Pedestrian Area – Next X Miles” to be installed by fall 
    • Upgrading signals at intersections near the Maryland campus to include countdown pedestrian signals prior to the fall semester.

    Meanwhile, Oni's sorority sisters are collecting money to help pay for the cost of her funeral. Click here for more information on their fundraiser.