Veirs Mill and Claridge roads get much-requested traffic signal

Those who live near a troubled intersection in Montgomery County are breathing a sigh of relief now that a new traffic signal is operational at Veirs Mill and Claridge roads.

It was an extremely long battle just to get the light installed.

For 20 years, Wheaton residents have pleaded with anyone who would listen about installing a traffic signal. Friday, their persistence paid off.

Carolyn Gupta of Wheaton said, "It's wonderful. This full-functioning traffic light."

Gupta could hardly contain her excitement over the flashing lights.She's lived in the area for more than 20 yeas and has always been troubled with the intersection.

"Unfortunately, over the years, there have been too, too many accidents," Gupta said.

In just a five year period, there have been 70 crashes, three fatal.

In 2004, an elderly woman was killed when the car she was riding in was hit by a utility truck.

State Delegate Al Carr, (D-MD) District 18, explained, "When roads like Veirs Mill were built, the emphasis was all on cars, just moving cars through quickly and communities and sidewalks and pedestrian safety was an afterthought, and we're now realizing that we made some mistakes and we have to go back and fix things."

Carr was among the more than a dozen people who celebrated the safety improvements Friday afternoon.

Wheaton resident Bettye Blakeney added, "I can't believe it. It doesn't seem like it's real because we waited so long, and the people worked so hard. Everybody did and finally!"

Jacqueline Ryan says her neighbors had to convince the State Highway Association that the light was critical, not only to homes surrounding the busy intersection, but to two churches, two bus stops and two elementary schools.

"It's been a big fight. My husband and I actually collected over 800 signatures in support of this light and even after that, it took a while," Ryan continued.

While the new light can't make up for the dozens of accidents there before, it does give neighbors hope that their community is just a little safer.