Safety Improvements Coming to Carriage Hill Drive

Photo | Pam Schipper A crosswalk and raised speed hump at the intersection of Carriage Hill Drive and Carriage Hill Street will be complete before the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

Photo | Pam Schipper
A crosswalk and raised speed hump at the intersection of Carriage Hill Drive and Carriage Hill Street will be complete before the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

Through a large northwest-facing window in their office at The Goddard School, owners John and Jill Pelicano have watched vehicles speed up and down Carriage Hill Drive—and pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists cross Carriage Hill Drive at Carriage Hill Street, the north side of The Goddard School entrance.

Goddard opened next door to Centerville Elementary 10 years ago. At the time, Centerville was four years old and had an enrollment of 810 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Student numbers increased to 1004 for the last reported year, 2017-2018.

“Back in 2009 when we opened, we started noticing right here at Carriage Hill Street a lot of people would walk, just walk across the street here, during school times, not during school times,” John Pelicano said. “We’re here all day, so there would be runners running, there would be people just crossing the street here—it’s kind of a natural crossing. … It’s not just school traffic, it’s everybody.”

Early on, they began requesting a crosswalk “and nothing ever came of it,” Pelicano said. “Essentially twice a year I would send a picture, I would send an email.”

Then on Oct. 31, 2018, an Urbana Middle School student bicycling home from school collided with a Centerville Elementary School bus at 3:30 p.m. near the intersection of Carriage Hill Drive and Sugarloaf Parkway. The student was not seriously injured, and the bus driver was not held responsible—but the accident prompted the Pelicanos to try again.

This time they contacted Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner. Within days, Gardner commissioned a study to assess vehicle speed on Carriage Hill Drive.

Results demonstrated that cars travel an average of 37 miles per hour in the 25 mile per hour school zone.

This “justified the crosswalk and the speed hump.” Pelicano said. The county gave its approval to these safety improvements in December 2018, and agreed to extend the school zone, which now ends halfway through the Goddard School property, down to the intersection of Carriage Hill Drive and Caldonia Drive.

But to install a raised speed hump on Carriage Hill, the county felt it needed community buy-in. Pelicano reached out to the Villages of Urbana (VOU) Safe Streets group. With their backing, he presented the raised speed hump idea to the VOU community association, and “they got behind it,” he said.

Pelicano was recently in touch with David Olney, project manager in the Frederick County Office of Transportation Engineering. Olney told him that Carriage Hill Drive improvements will occur sometime over the summer and be complete before school starts in September.

“He said they don’t want to mess up traffic any more before school is out, and that makes sense because it’s a mess,” Pelicano said.

The busiest times on Carriage Hill Drive are 8:30 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 4 p.m., he added. While there is a 25 miles per hour speed limit sign going north down Carriage Hill Drive toward Belvedere, there is no speed limit sign posted for cars driving up Carriage Hill Drive from Belvedere toward Fingerboard Road.

New townhomes planned for Sugarloaf Parkway near Carriage Hill Drive may bring increased traffic to the area. In December 2018, the Frederick County Planning Commission gave approval for 14 townhomes on a 1.3-acre site near Centerville Elementary School (CES). The new townhomes will be built seven on the north side and seven on the south side of Sugarloaf Parkway near Carriage Hill Drive. A total of 56 parking spaces will be added.

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