Traffic experiment ends in mixed results GLEN BURNIE

April 21, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

After a six-month test to see if stop signs would curb the Central Avenue speedway, the county's Traffic Engineering Division has concluded: Maybe, sort of.

Over the years, the wide tree-lined street adjacent to Glen Burnie's oldest business district has become an increasingly popular shortcut between Dorsey Road and Crain Highway, to the consternation of its residents.

In September, after negotiations with the residents, the Traffic Engineering Division created four-way stops at the avenue's intersections with Oak Lane and D Street. And it made Linden Lane one way northbound between Central Avenue and Greenway to avoid creating a motorist-boggling, five-way stop at Central Avenue and D Street, where Linden Lane starts.

Now, after what started as a 90-day trial, but was doubled because findings were inconclusive, traffic engineers have found that the results are neither as bad nor as good as expected.

In a letter this week to the community, traffic engineers are requesting another meeting with area residents to ask more questions and talk about other possible solutions, said James Schroll, chief of the Traffic Engineering Division.

That's fine with Roger Little, who heads a group of about a dozen of his neighbors. "What I would really like to do is sit down and talk to them about the whole thing. I'm not satisfied that the stop signs aren't working, and they're not satisfied that they are."

The community and traffic engineers set up three criteria to determine if the stop signs were reducing traffic speed and volume.

First, they wanted to see traffic volumes drop by 5 percent. A traffic count done shortly before the stop signs were installed showed 3,140 cars on Central Avenue just east of Dorsey Road. The volume did drop by that much there. But it didn't change on Central Avenue near A Street, a section that includes a few stores, parking areas and the Glen Burnie Volunteer Fire Company.

Second, they wanted to see the speed at which 85 percent of the cars travel drop by 5 mph between Maple Lane and D Street. Although the speed limit is 25 mph, 85 percent of the traffic was moving at 32 mph on a June 1992 afternoon, 40 mph on a May 1992 morning. Little change was seen during the study period.

Third, they wanted to see at least 65 percent of the cars stop or slowly roll through the stop signs. Between 80 percent and 86 percent did. That is more than traffic engineers expected, but the standard usually is set higher when the test is done in other places.

"We met the first criteria on the first half, didn't meet the second, and met the third, sort of," Mr. Schroll said. "Now the question for the community is, are you satisfied?"

More common solutions to traffic speed and volume problems are to add circles in the middle of intersections and islands in the middle of roads, Mr. Schroll said. But residents didn't want to force traffic toward the roadway's outer edges because the sidewalks are very close to the curbs, Mr. Little said.

The neighborhood and traffic engineers will discuss the possibility of a visual barrier -- a painted parking lane on each side of Central Avenue -- which could reduce speeds by up to 5 mph, Mr. Schroll said.

Creating real barriers, such as a barricade partway up the street or making Central Avenue one way, could create real problems. Fire and rescue equipment must be able to get through easily. And measures affect all traffic, and could do nothing more than send the traffic onto a neighboring street, Mr. Schroll said.

Many residents are clamoring for a traffic light at Central Avenue and Dorsey Road -- they got one at the intersection with Crain Highway in May. People say it is difficult to make a left turn from Central Avenue onto busy Dorsey Road and that a light would be a help to students walking to Arthur Slade Regional Catholic School or people heading for the light rail station at Dorsey Road and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, scheduled to open in July.

Mr. Schroll said that issue is likely to be discussed when the community and traffic engineers meet, because a traffic light might invite more cut-through traffic.

No meeting date has been set.

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