Commuters exiting the Jones Falls Expressway are bound to notice a dramatic change in traffic patterns after crews last week added turn lanes at 28th Street and are funneling traffic into one lane heading east.
The change is the first of many as the Baltimore Department of Transportation begins a project along 28th Street between Sisson Street and Maryland Avenue aimed at addressing safety concerns for pedestrians and excessive speeds along the thoroughfare that runs through the Remington neighborhood.
The so-called “road diet” converts two lanes along a one-way street into a single lane for vehicles with, an accompanying two-way bike/scooter lane and floating parking separating the bike lane from the vehicular traffic.
Several turn lanes will be added to accommodate turning traffic at key streets along the route.
“I really do think it will be transformative, quite honestly,” said Matt Williams, Remington resident and co-owner of Mt. Royal Soap, a soap and skincare shop located at the corner of 28th and Huntington Avenue. “It will make the whole neighborhood feel residential, because cars are going to be forced to drive a bit slower, take their time through those intersections, take the time to see the houses in the neighborhood, see the businesses around the neighborhood.”
The road diet has long been on the wishlist of neighbors and the Greater Remington Improvement Association, which worked with the city’s transportation department to make sure the busy corridor was safer for residents.
“Currently, the roadway of 28th is extremely challenging to pass, and we’ve seen multiple incidents—pedestrians and cyclists—having collisions and crashes with cars, either driving on 28th Street or making turns off 28th Street,” said Corey Jennings, president of the neighborhood association. “It will reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians across 28th Street, and it will further increase the safety of the right turns at Huntington (Avenue) by increasing the distance the cars need to travel when they do make a right.”
Huntington Avenue was one of several concerning intersections along 28th neighbors pressured the city to address. Baltimore’s Department of Transportation was unable to comment on the construction for this story.
Last fall, a vehicle traveling hopped the sidewalk on the north side of 28th Street opposite William’s soap shop. That incident followed an eerily similar accident at the northeast corner of 28th and Howard Street, where a vehicle crashed into a porch.
A reminder on this day where Chris Jensen's home has yet again been struck by a driver:
GRIA has a 2021 state grant to pay for a road diet on 28th Street, awarded with a letter of support from @BmoreCityDOT, that they have simply not installed.
We may lose the money. pic.twitter.com/kee53Kc8rv — Jed Weeks (@jedweeks) October 21, 2022
Williams said a Mount Royal employee was involved in a pedestrian incident at the Huntington intersection just a few months ago.
“That felt real personal,” he said. “Luckily they’re okay.”
This change will connect the Big Jump to major North-South biking and scooter routes along Maryland Avenue.
City transportation advocates had decried the Big Jump’s unsatisfactory end, dumping the protected lane for pedestrians, cyclists and people using scooters out at Sisson Street with no connections to the rest of the city’s multimodal pathways. The Big Jump is a barrier protected along Druid Park Lake Drive and over the JFX into Remington. The project is also part of the Druid Park Lake Drive Complete Streets planning process.
“It was a challenging process, but in the end, we came to a good resolution,” Jennings said of the efforts neighbors spent advocating for the change. “We’re happy with where things landed. It’ll be transformative for those people in Baltimore that want to commute from the West side of the city through Remington, not just Remington residents.”