All things considered, the suggested changes are cheapAdding the protected bike lanes and walk space that are in WABA’s proposal would cost between $80,000 and $165,000, with annual maintenance costs of less than $10,000. Of course, actual sidewalks, along with bus platforms and landscaping, would be nice. But the idea is to calm traffic and make Suitland Road safer for people on bikes and foot as quickly and inexpensively as possible.WABA’s proposal uses flexposts, a “soft” bike lane protector that’s common in DC, rather than more expensive curbing or a raised roadbed for bike lanes. The cost estimates also cover bike symbols, lane and buffer striping, and changing existing pavement lines.There are two main approaches to lane striping. The first, thermoplastic lines (hot tape), would cost about $165,000 to install. They’d carry an annual maintenance price tag of about $1,200. The other option would be to use white paint for the lane markings. This would cost about $80,000 upfront, with $9,600 in annual maintenance. On a per-mile basis, these cost estimates are considerably lower than most types of roadway improvements. The estimates, meant to provide ballpark figures rather than specifics, are from an engineer familiar with the proposal. The Maryland State Highway Administration, which maintains Suitland Road, recently added road design guidelines that include buffered striping for bike lanes along with curbed protection features. WABA’s proposal uses flexposts, a “soft” bike lane protector that’s common in DC, instead of curbing or a raised roadbed for bike lanes. The Suitland Civic Association, WABA, and local bike shops are planning a community walk to advocate for a better Suitland Road on April 4th.
In a county known for its difficulty accommodating and protecting vulnerable road users, Suitland Road is a clear candidate for new infrastructure. The road’s wide lanes and shoulders offer drivers a tempting opportunity to push speed limits, but they also leave ample room for bike and foot traffic without removing car lanes. Requiring only design and minimal changes to the roadway, adding protected bike and pedestrian lanes would be a cost effective addition to a roadway with a 10 year history of declining vehicle use. If completed, these protected lanes will extend the reach of DC’s bike lane and trail network to Silver Hill Road and the Suitland Federal Center offering better connections to nearby neighborhoods, shops, employment centers and transit.
Bike and pedestrian routes along Suitland Road would benefit local businesses, give local residents easier access to transit, help commuters and students get to work and school, and reduce unsafe speeding — all without removing travel lanes. We look forward to working with officials from the county and Maryland State Highway Administration to make this corridor a safer place for all who use it. For more information, please see the campaign page.