Safety concerns over temporary crosswalk on Piney Branch Road in Montgomery County

Shocking video shows a car narrowly missing a young boy trying to cross the street in Montgomery County while bike-riding with his family.

It happened at Piney Branch Road and Sligo Creek Parkway on Monday at a temporary crosswalk that sits several feet from a stop light. FOX 5 found out the intersection has been a problem for pedestrians and local lawmakers for at least a year.

Piney Branch is a major thoroughfare for commuters. The busy road, speeding cars and a crosswalk uncoupled from the intersection make for a dangerous - if not deadly - recipe.

"It's horrific," cyclist Nicole Entwistle told FOX 5. "I've tried to cross but cars just blow through it."

FOX 5's cameras were rolling as person after person tried to get the attention of drivers as they precariously crossed.

"I've also been in a car, stopped to let people by and cars have passed me on the left and almost hit the pedestrian," added Entwistle.

A similar situation was captured on camera Monday. A motorist, who caught it all on his dash camera, stopped for a family attempting to use the crosswalk. As a young boy on a bike was about half way through, a Honda CRV sped through the crosswalk, narrowly missing the boy.

"It's terrifying to watch, very unsettling," said Tom Hucker, who represents Silver Spring and Takoma Park on the Montgomery County Council.

Hucker uses the crosswalk almost daily for morning runs. He has witnessed near-collisions and has almost been hit there himself while trying to cross.

"It's a miracle that somebody hasn't been killed already," Hucker added.

So why is the crosswalk in such a dangerous area in the first place?

The State Highway Administration moved the crosswalk when they began construction of a nearby pedestrian bridge, which connects to the popular Sligo Creek Trail. The project was slated to be done in the fall of 2017.

"They've missed numerous deadlines and are well over a year or so behind schedule," Hucker explained.

He met with the Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration to get answers on why the project was at a standstill.

In an email shared with FOX 5, the State Highway Administration told Hucker in May that the pedestrian bridge "cannot be opened until the adjacent signal and crosswalk work is completed on MD 320 (Piney Branch Road). Last check, we were awaiting approval of the traffic control/signal box as well as CPU/APS push button approval and have anticipated a June 2018 opening."

That date has come and passed and the construction site remains.

Over the summer, Hucker requested the dangerous crosswalk be moved back to where it was originally while the state awaits completion on construction.

Derek Gunn, assistant district engineer for traffic in Montgomery County, told Hucker it could not be done. In an email sent to Hucker, Gunn writes:

"Our construction team came across several challenges during the recent spring. Some matters related to pending approvals of traffic control equipment by others. Additionally, changes to the traffic signal location were determined to be necessary to ensure that the permanent crosswalk location provided the safest crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists. As a result, construction progress was temporarily stalled.

"The temporary crosswalk will remain in place until improvements are completed at the signalized intersection of MD 320 (Piney Branch Road) at Sligo Creek Parkway. We considered suggestions to re-open the original south leg crosswalk at the Sligo Creek Parkway intersection. Re-opening this crosswalk would revert the crosswalk to the original location at the signal. However, construction of the southeast corner of the intersection is not yet completed. At this time, re-opening the original south leg crosswalk would not be feasible."

Hucker is not satisfied with the state's response to such a pressing issue.

"You would think the empirical evidence alone of all the near misses that happen here on a daily basis would be enough evidence, that they would want to move it and have people cross where there is a red light," he added.

In the email to Hucker, Gunn cited additional safety measures taken by State Highway Administration:

"Our office evaluated the signing and markings approaching and at the temporary crosswalk. Based on our evaluation, we recently requested our maintenance forces to install "Stop Here for Pedestrians" signs with marked stop lines along both MD 320 approaches to the temporary crosswalk. These additional, temporary measures are in place. At the northbound approach to the temporary crosswalk, the marked stop line was installed across both travel lanes. These additional signs and markings are anticipated to increase the conspicuity of the crosswalk and indicate to road users where to stop in advance of the crosswalk. The other existing signs at the crosswalk at this time are in adequate condition and appeared to be adequately visible and will be continually maintained throughout the summer to ensure the signs are not blocked by roadside foliage."

But Hucker says he gets emails from constituents almost daily complaining about the crosswalk's placement. Joggers and cyclists FOX 5 spoke to at the site say the signs aren't visible enough to drivers and blend in with the surrounding foliage and construction.

"What are they waiting for?" one jogger asked. "Someone to die?"