Salutations, Streetcar Suburbs!
Welcome to the Streetcar Spotlight, New Year’s edition.
First up is our overview of the new Maryland General Assembly session, which began Monday, January 8th and runs through April 10. Our editors asked all the local delegates and state senators to forecast their top legislative priorities for this session. Priorities for District 21 (Laurel and College Park) include housing initiatives, transportation oversight of construction on Route 1 / The Purple Line, and managing projected school budget shortfalls following the end of federal Covid-19 emergency funds.
In District 22 (Riverdale Park, Greenbelt, and much of Hyattsville), and in the wake of the recent tragic pedestrian fatalities of two Riverdale Park schoolchildren, all delegates who responded cited traffic safety and approving stop sign cameras as a top district priority, though such measures have previously failed at the state level.
This recent editorial by several local PTA/PTO boards urged local leaders and law enforcement to swiftly and dramatically improve traffic safety for children walking to school. College Park Here & Now’s Paul Ruffins did a deep-dive into local pedestrian safety recently, reporting that pedestrian fatality rates in our county are the deadliest in the entire DMV region (twice the rate of DC!).
Advocates of stop-sign cameras already installed in the District hope they will make streets safer for pedestrians, while critics have decried the extreme sensitivity and rigidity of the technology, saying they don’t reflect realities of normal safe driving (drivers must come to a complete resting stop and be 100% behind the white line to avoid citations). Critics also suggest that the high fine for tickets disproportionately impacts residents with lower incomes and doesn’t take into account the rigid criteria. What do you think? Share your take on stop-sign cameras in our Facebook polls: HL&T, CPH&N, & Laurel.
In another distressing local development regarding safety and schools, a Northwestern High School student was shot and critically wounded in an attempted robbery behind the school Friday, just days after returning from winter break. The Life & Times has previously reported on community safety concerns with the sports field area behind the high school, abutting the site of last week’s shooting. The new head of Prince George’s County Public Schools, Millard House II, had hoped to curb campus violence by installing weapons detectors and requiring clear backpacks at high schools this past fall, though a Hyattsville Life & Times analysis found that — both locally and nationally — the vast majority of shootings and gun incidents occur outside school buildings (as did this one).
On a more hopeful note, The Laurel Independent‘s Jimmy Rogers offers readers in the region a little known secret for bringing life to your garden during this otherwise dormant season. He reveals a novel trick for directly sowing seeds in winter while spending just pennies on the dollar relative to whole plants.
Oh, and don’t forget to bring your reusable bags to stores across the county (like I did yesterday)! The new plastic bag ban went into effect January 1, so stash a stack in your vehicle to avoid buying paper bags.
That’s it for our first newsletter of 2024! What else would you like to see from us in your inbox? Reply to this email with comments or feedback on the newsletter to let us know what you think! Keep up with local news & events along the Route 1 Corridor here online and on social media (below).
Heather Marléne Zadig, Newsletter Editor