Route 216 intersection under study again Residents argue for traffic light NORTH LAUREL/SAVAGE

July 09, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

If she can avoid it, North Laurel resident Pat Flynn steers clear of the Route 216 and Baltimore Avenue intersection.

The crossroads is a disaster waiting to happen, say Mrs. Flynn and others in the community, who for years have been asking State Highway Administration officials to install a traffic light.

"Especially if I have to make a left, I take another route, and this is right down the street from me," Mrs. Flynn said. "One of these days there's going to be an accident there, and somebody's going to get killed."

At the request of Del. Martin G. Madden, a District 13B Republican, and County Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, a 1st District Democrat, state highway officials have begun a study to determine if a light is needed.

"Other studies showed that it wasn't warranted, but apparently that's a growing area so maybe it's getting close now," said Tom Hicks, director of the SHA's office of traffic and safety.

The results of the new study, measuring factors such as traffic volume and accidents, should be available next month, Mr. Hicks said.

Ms. Pendergrass said that she has brought residents' concerns to the attention of highway officials several times in the past two years.

"I'm not a traffic engineer, but it seems to be that it would be useful to have a light there," Ms. Pendergrass said. "It makes sense that the citizens would be the best judges because they live with it all the time."

This year there have been two accidents at the intersection, one in January and one in May, said Sgt. Gary L. Gardner, a county police spokesman.

"I don't think that intersection has a real high incidence of accidents," said Cpl. Gerald Frischkorn of the Police Department's traffic division. "It's more of an inconvenience than a danger down there."

But area residents say the intersection has been the site of many near misses.

They say the the main problems are caused by traffic volume and speed. Residents say that drivers who exit Interstate 95 with its 55 mph speed limit often continue at high speeds on Route 216.

"That's a very dangerous intersection, and I don't think people are taking that area seriously," said Baltimore Avenue resident Myrtle Coon.

Residents say they have not been satisfied with the way SHA officials have responded to their concerns. In June 1992, the last time the state tested the intersection, for instance, Mrs. Coon and other residents say they saw the traffic counters sleeping in their car.

"They certainly didn't get a true picture of the intersection if the counters were laying there asleep when 586 cars went by," Mrs. Coon said.

Mr. Hicks said he had never heard that the traffic counters were observed sleeping.

"They could be sitting with their heads down working on a computer keyboard and look motionless," he said.

Residents also recently learned it is illegal to stop straddling lane lines while waiting for traffic to clear after a North Laurel resident was given a warning for attempting such a maneuver on Route 216. They say that to make a left turn off Route 216 on to Baltimore Avenue, it's necessary to stop in the center, because there's rarely a moment when both lanes are clear.

"If that's the law, then there better be a light up there," said Patsy Yingling, president of the North Laurel Civic Association.

Corporal Frischkorn said although it is illegal to stop halfway across two lanes, most officers don't give tickets for the offense.

"I would assume that what she did was so blatant to the point that it disrupted traffic," he said of the motorist who received the warning.

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