New traffic signals for Montgomery County

March of 2004, an elderly woman died after the car she is riding in is hit by a utility truck. Now, after nearly two decades of asking the state highway administration to make this intersection safer - neighbors are finally getting their wish.

Friday afternoon, the new traffic signal will be activated to keep both drivers and pedestrians safe.

The new traffic signal will be at the intersection of Claridge Road and Veirs Mill Road (Maryland Route 586) in Wheaton. The new traffic signal, which was installed after years of advocacy efforts led by area civic associations, will help protect motorists and pedestrians crossing multiple lanes of traffic, Montgomery City Council said.

“It took a lot of work, it took a lot of research, it took a lot of asking the state highway administration to consider the light for us,” said neighbor Joyce Thomas.

The intersection, which is bordered by St. Catherine Laboure Parish and a highly utilized bus stop, was the site of 70 accidents between 2003 and 2008, including three that resulted in fatalities, the city council said.

Three community civic groups worked alongside state delegate Al Carr and members of the Montgomery County Council for several years to get this project done. Officials say it took so long because the state owns the road, not the county.

“This is one of those situations where it required the state to work with the county - so we're celebrating that,” said Valerie Ervin, of the Montgomery County Council.

Not only do homes surround the busy intersection, but two churches, two bus stops, and two elementary schools. James Ryan, a father, collected hundreds of signatures from his neighbors to take right to the SHA.

While this new light can't help any of the dozens of people who were injured or killed in this intersection - it does give neighbors hope that they are saving lives in the future.