Delay of lights leaves commuters in the dark Crofton complained since last winter WEST COUNTY--Crofton * Odenton * Fort Meade * Gambrills

February 09, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

It's winter, which means that when the morning buses pull out of Crofton on their way to the New Carrollton Metro, delivering commuters to their jobs in Washington, the parking lot is quiet and dark.

It's so dark, in fact, that one woman can't see her hands in front of her face. "You can't even see the lock on your car door," she says before climbing on board the 7:10 bus Friday morning. "It's OK in the summer, but it's hard in the wintertime."

The Crofton Civic Association agrees. So does the state's Mass Transit Administration (MTA), which operates the buses. But commuters have complained since the winter of 1992, and so far, the lot on the grounds of the Crofton Country Club is far from bright.

"There are tremendous delays in this thing," said Crofton Town Manager Jordan L. Harding, who has been fielding the complaints and working with state agencies to solve the problem. "I'm a little chagrinned at the delays by the bureaucracy in getting this thing done."

Mr. Harding said he is worried that by the time the light is installed, it will be summertime, meaning a second lightless winter will have passed since the first complaint was lodged.

Two problems have emerged in the past few months. The MTA and Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. wanted to install the light near the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church and tie into their line. But church officials said no.

"They were concerned that their service was a little old and we might overload it," said Frank Starr, an MTA spokesman.

BG&E then offered to install a new junction box, but there was confusion over how the MTA would be billed for the service, because it would still be on the church's line, Mr. Starr said.

Now, a new line will have to be dug, meaning new plans need to be drawn and new approvals sought. Mr. Starr didn't have a cost estimate for the work, though he said maintaining the light will cost the MTA about $400 a year.

"We are certainly interested in meeting the concerns of the people out there who believe the lot is too dark," Mr. Starr said, adding that the MTA is willing to pay for the permanent light even though it has only a year-to-year lease with the country club.

After the MTA and BG&E finish the design work and get the necessary approvals, Crofton's Architectural Review Board has to give its approval. But after that, Mr. Harding is still concerned it will take the state 60 to 70 days to do the work because of backed-up schedules.

"I will be asking for special consideration because of the public safety issue," he said.

That isn't the only lighting issue worrying Mr. Harding, who said he is not pleased with progress on lighting the entrance to Crofton Park, off Davidsonville Road.

He said Crofton leaders want the entrance lighted, but the county Department of Recreation and Parks decided to light the entire road that goes into the park as well. That meant drawings and plans had to be redone.

Mr. Harding said officials promise him that the lights, which he said are needed to ensure the safety of early morning or evening joggers, will be installed in March. But he doesn't quite believe it.

"With all the delays we've encountered in the last six months, I'm not optimistic that the March deadline will be met," he said.

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