Signal lights needed near school, county engineers report EAST COLUMBIA

December 29, 1992|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

County engineers plan to install traffic lights at Stevens Forest Road and Kilimanjaro Road to make a street crossing near an elementary school safer and to control increased traffic.

A county traffic study of the intersection in 1989 determined that a signal light was not warranted because national criteria for installing a device were not met.

But conditions have changed since then, according to a study conducted earlier this month by the county traffic engineering division, said chief C. Edward Walter.

"A signal is needed and we're proceeding to put one in," said Mr. Walter. "We can move the school crossing, and it will be safer."

The Stevens Forest Elementary School PTA and the Oakland Mills village board have expressed concern that fast-moving traffic along Stevens Forest Road poses a danger to children at busy school crossing times. The volume of traffic has increased since an expanded and realigned Broken Land Parkway, which connects with U.S. 29, opened in the fall.

Elementary school students now cross Stevens Forest Road at either Camelback Lane or Kilimanjaro Road. Mr. Walter has suggested the Camelback Lane crossing could be eliminated. Signals would be installed at Kilimanjaro Road, he said.

PTA President Julie Cleveland said she is pleased that a traffic light is planned. "That's going to solve one of our problems," she said. "It will slow down the traffic."

But village board Chairman Albert J. Dunn said he is not certain that the community will support a traffic light at that location.

Oakland Mills residents successfully opposed the installation of a traffic light at the intersection of Thunder Hill Road and Twin Knolls Road, he said.

"My general feeling is that we don't want to see a proliferation of traffic lights in Oakland Mills because it will change the residential character," said Mr. Dunn.

would hope the county wouldn't go forward without seeing what the residents think."

The village board wrote a letter to county officials in November urging that action be taken to address the "traffic problem" on Stevens Forest Road near the school. The letter warned that deaths from traffic accidents could occur if measures were not taken.

Mr. Walter said a signal was designed for the intersection about two years ago as part of an overall traffic speed management plan for the east Columbia area. It was never implemented. "Residents didn't want that kind of speed control," he said. "We knew it would eventually be needed."

The intersection now meets four of the 11 criteria that determine if a traffic light is needed. An intersection must meet at least one traffic-volume or traffic-pattern criterion to warrant the installation a signal.

According to traffic count studies conducted in 1989 and 1992, volume between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. increased on Stevens Forest Road by 17.2 percent -- from 8,319 to 9,752 vehicle trips. Traffic increased by 6.2 percent from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., 18 percent between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., when kindergarten students come and go, and 13.5 percent from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The volume of westbound traffic on Kilimanjaro Road has remained relatively constant over the last four years, increasing by 1.4 percent from 2,706 to 2,744 vehicle trips daily between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Traffic lights could be in operation by spring, once a contract is awarded, Mr. Walter said

CHANGES IN TRAFFIC

This chart shows changes in traffic volume on Stevens Forest and Kilimanjaro roads. The first weeklong study conducted by the Department of Public Works was February 1989; the second was December 1992:

Time ........ Kilimanjaro Road westbound .. Stevens Forest Road....... ........ ........... .... ......... ... northbound

.... ........1989.... 1992.... % change.. 1989...1992.. % change

a.m. ...... 541..... 622..... +15.0%... 1,463.. 1,554... +6.2%

11 a.m.-1 p.m.. 240..... 238...... -0.8...... 894.. 1,055.. +18.0

3 p.m.-4 p.m... 334..... 240..... -28.1...... 689.... 741... +7.5

4 p.m.-6 p.m... 461..... 475...... +3.0.... 1,705.. 1,976.. +15.9

6 a.m.-9 p.m..2,706... 2,744...... +1.4.... 8,319... 9752.. +17.2

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