Members of the Hyattsville City Council were briefed by county officials on Monday on a series of concepts for overhauling the Ager Road streetscape between Queens Chapel Road and East West Highway.
Currently, the Prince George's County Department of Public Works and Transportation is in the midst of a preliminary design phase for a project to turn the West Hyattsville thoroughfare into a "green complete" street, one which provides space for automobiles, cyclists and pedestrians and incorporates environmentally friendly features like rain gardens into its design.
Back in June, the DPWT held a public meeting at Rosa Parks Elementary School in Chillum to gather feedback on design concepts for the road improvement project. No one from the Hyattsville City Council or city administration was present. That absence had garnered criticism from some influential West Hyattsville residents, including Jennifer Kubit, Alexi Boadi and Valrie Hames, who have been critical of the city's management of West Hyattsville.
Monday's presentation by DPWT came less than a month after Kubit noted the city's absence during public comment at the Oct. 1 city council meeting.
"Someone should have been at that meeting," said Kubit to the city council.
Hyattsville residents traveling through the neighboring town of Edmonston may be familiar with the green street concept already. Back in 2010 Edmonston officials cut the ribbon on a revamped Decatur Street which narrowed and staggered the roadway to slow down cars, added bicycle lanes and featured rain gardens and permeable concrete sidewalks to filter storm water.
The Ager Road overhaul would be the first green street constructed by the county.
Currently, Ager Road has two to three drive lanes in each direction, depending on the location. In addition to that, Ager Road is lined with service roads, bisected by a median. Most importantly for local motorists, the roadway performs very well, with an "excellent traffic flow level".
For pedestrians and cyclists, though, the roadway leaves much to be desired, according to Susan Hubbard with DPWT. The sidewalks are narrow, don't connect to the local trail system and in sections are obstructed by telephone poles planted right into the concrete. Cyclists lack a dedicated bicycle lane, forcing them to either take to the sidewalk or share lanes with motor vehicles.
Concepts for a new Ager Road call for the travel lanes to go on a diet, slimming down to 11 feet. That, and eliminating of the westbound turn lane would allow for five-foot-wide cyclist lanes in both directions and a wider 16 foot median and wider six-foot sidewalks on both sides of the road.
Officials presented four different concepts for redoing the road, the only major difference between the four were how the existing service road on the south side of Ager road would be remodeled. Some concepts call for the service road to be eliminated in favor of expanded green space. Under these options, on street parking cutouts would be installed for properties facing the roadway.
One concept proposes blocking off the Ager Road intersection with Kirkwood Place. Residents of the Kirkwood area neighborhoods would have to access their residences through Nicholson Street
Mayor Marc Tartaro, and Council Members Paula Perry (Ward 4) and Carlos Lizanne (Ward 4) all asked county planners to consider adding an additional crosswalk at the intersection of Ager Road and Lancer Drive, saying that spot was frequently used to cross towards the West Hyattsville Metro Station.
The DPWT is currently seeking feedback from area residents about the proposed redesign as the project moves through the preliminary design phase.
According to Hubbard, if the project proceeds according to plan, the roadway overhaul could begin construction by 2014 and open by 2015.