If kids must walk, parents will worry Flashing lights, 4-way stop urged when bus ceases NORTH LAUREL/SAVAGE

January 29, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

Plans for discontinuing a school bus route in Savage have parents worried about their children's safety while walking to school.

The cancellation of the route will mean that 60 Bollman Bridge Elementary School children and 15 Patuxent Valley Middle School children will have to walk to school, said Jayne Shaffer, chairman of the Bollman Bridge PTA's safety committee.

Mrs. Shaffer and other parents say they want flashing lights installed in front of the school to warn cars to slow down, and a four-way stop at the intersection of Savage-Guilford and Vollmerhausen roads.

"Elementary school-age kids don't pay much attention to safety issues and it's up to us adults to protect them," Mrs. Shaffer said.

"There will be more walkers and more traffic because parents who let their kids ride the bus may choose to drive them to school," she said.

County school officials are making plans to stop bus service in the Aspenwood development between Guilford and Savage-Guilford roads because the county built a sidewalk on Vollmerhausen Road to connect to the existing sidewalk on the bridge over Route 32, said Glenn Johnson, director of transportation for the county school system.

The road improvements mean that students at Bollman Bridge and Patuxent Woods who live in Aspenwood must walk to school because they live within a mile of the schools, Mr. Johnson said.

Mrs. Shaffer said that although a crossing guard is already posted at the Savage-Guilford and Vollmerhausen roads intersection, a four-way stop sign is needed because both roads are busy and have an equal amount of traffic.

"The distance perception is not good, and cars are almost always going beyond the speed limit," Mrs. Shaffer said. "With a four-way stop, it would be a lot safer."

Mr. Johnson said he's confident that students will be safe walking to school, noting that the county and state roads officials have taken steps to ensure the children's safety.

The State Highway Administration installed "nonclimbing" fencing on the bridge, and the county plans to erect barriers along Vollmerhausen Road to prevent children from falling down a slope.

Mr. Johnson said the bus route will be discontinued as soon as the county completes the improvements.

Parents also want a school-crossing guard posted at the intersection of Baltimore Street and Savage-Guilford Road, an area they say is particularly dangerous. This intersection has been a concern since Bollman Bridge opened in 1988, parents say.

"Baltimore Street and Savage-Guilford Road are main thoroughfares for people trying to hit Route 1," said Sharon Spicher, who lives on Baltimore Street.

Mrs. Spicher said that her 7-year-old son walks to and from

school and that her 5-year-old son walks home from kindergarten.

"I feel strongly enough about it that I'll either pick them up at school or have their older sister walk home with them," Mrs. Spicher said.

The school system doesn't have the authority to approve crossing guards or flashing lights, Mr. Johnson said, but his office can ask county traffic engineers to conduct a study of an area.

If they determine that a crossing guard is needed, traffic planners make that recommendation to the county police.

County public works officials have turned down three requests for a crossing guard at the intersection of Savage-Guilford Road and Baltimore Street, saying there wasn't enough traffic at the intersection, said George Frangos, a traffic engineer with the county.

"There's a marked crosswalk with appropriate signing, but it has not reached the stage where a crossing guard is needed," he said.

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