Stevens Forest Elementary School PTA President Julie Cleveland describes the traffic conditions on Stevens Forest Road "a catastrophe waiting to happen" during busy crossing times before and after school.
Ms. Cleveland says traffic conditions in front of the school that already posed dangers have been compounded by the new Broken Land Parkway, which links at a nearby interchange with Route 29.
"Now it's not only speeding, but the increased volume of traffic. It's horrible," she says.
Howard County police and the county's traffic engineering division are evaluating how to improve safety for elementary school children and motorists at two points along Stevens Forest Road in Oakland Mills village.
The Oakland Mills village board, responding to concerns of residents and the PTA, has written to county officials asking them to address dangerous traffic situations in front of the school and near the redesigned intersection of Stevens Forest Road and the new Broken Land Parkway.
The realigned and expanded Broken Land Parkway has provided motorists an alternate route, bringing increased traffic into Oakland Mills via Stevens Forest Road, police and traffic engineers agree.
Ms. Cleveland said she has clocked cars with speed detection devices traveling 50 mph on Stevens Forest Road, which has a 30 mph speed limit.
Also, cars are traveling in two lanes in each direction on the road designed for single-lane traffic, she says.
The traffic poses a danger for the 350 or so students, most of whom walk to school, she said.
"We are afraid we will be losing young lives if we can't convince you of the seriousness of the traffic problem," wrote village board chairman Albert J. Dunn to County Executive Charles I. Ecker.
Mr. Ecker has asked the Department of Public Works to address the situation.
Stevens Forest Elementary School Principal Earl Slacum said no children have been hurt in accidents, but he says the school wants to take the initiative to prevent them.
Lt. Wayne Livesay, an officer with the county police traffic division, said two crossing guards are stationed on Stevens Forest Road near the school around 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. -- one at Camelback Lane and another at Kilimanjaro Road.
Lieutenant Livesay said hours will be increased for one crossing guard so both locations will be covered at midday for kindergarten students.
He agrees that speeding is a problem on Stevens Forest Road and said police have increased radar enforcement and are citing more violators.
Police have recommended to county traffic engineers that signs be posted prohibiting any stopping on both sides of Stevens Forest Road from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
That measure would be intended to prevent parents from stopping in front of the school to pick up children and making U-turns, he said.
C. Edward Walter, county traffic engineering division chief, said the problem could be eased if children would take the walkway tunnel under Stevens Forest Road.
But he acknowledges that because of crime, parents are uneasy about sending their children through underpasses, which connect to the pathway system in several Columbia villages.
Lieutenant Livesay agrees the tunnel is not a viable alternative because it would require another crossing guard.
The county traffic engineering division now is conducting a traffic study on Stevens Forest Road and is evaluating whether a signal light is warranted at Kilimanjaro Road, said Mr. Walter.
Results could be prepared by the end of the month, he said.