Drivers ignore efforts to slow street's traffic Islands, circles lines don't work PASADENA

July 09, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

The tire marks pressed into the scorched grass confirmed Steve Riggin's fears: Despite the 18-month-old traffic islands, circles and street markings, motorists still zip up and down Mansion House Crossing.

A car traveling too fast to navigate the traffic circle at the Almondbury Court intersection had swerved wide and jumped the curb, leaving its tracks across the grassy corner.

"If a child's ball rolls out into the street, people just aren't leaving themselves enough time to react," said Mr. Riggin, a member of the Chesterfield Homeowners Association's board of directors.

The county Department of Public Works installed the circle in January 1992 as part of a plan to control speeds along the 1 1/2 -mile route connecting Mountain Road and Duvall Highway.

But residents along Mansion House Crossing say it has done little to slow traffic, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours when children are walking to and from school. Commuters and others routinely travel 40 mph on a road with a posted limit of 25, they say.

County traffic engineers concede that the circle and other devices have not worked as well as expected.

"We know we haven't done what we set out to do," said James D. Schroll, chief of the county Traffic Engineering Division. "We did not see a dramatic decrease in speeds."

Speeds along Mansion House Crossing have dropped a few miles per hour since crews installed the circle and an island, and painted new edge lines to narrow the 40-foot-wide boulevard, Mr. Schroll said. But speeds were reduced considerably less than the 10 miles an hour experienced in other neighborhoods where similar devices have been used, he said.

Several Mansion House Crossing residents brought their concerns about the speeding to the attention of the homeowners association last month. The group forwarded the complaints to state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-31st, and Mr. Schroll.

The problem is neither new nor isolated to Mansion House Crossing, said Carolyn Roeding, president of the Anne Arundel County Parent-Teachers Association and a Mansion House Crossing resident.

Parents and community activists throughout Pasadena banded together two years ago after four children were struck by cars in separate accidents on Outing Avenue, Catherine Avenue and Duvall Highway, Ms. Roeding said. As they studied safety factors on those roads, it became apparent that Mansion House Crossing also was dangerous.

"Our road is so wide, it's like a speedway," Ms. Roeding said. "Stop signs don't seem to work. The cars don't just slide through the stops either. They're flying."

Capt. P. Thomas Shannahan, chief of the county's Eastern District police station, said police frequently set up radar traps along the road, which stretches through portions of Chesterfield, Greenhaven, King's Bench and Queen's Park.

"That seems to help for short periods, but it's a recurring problem, something that's never been solved," Captain Shannahan said.

Mr. Schroll said he had hoped that narrowing the road with new edge lines and a traffic island would make motorists feel "uncomfortable going faster. Most people don't realize how fast they are going down these neighborhood streets."

He said he and his traffic engineers will meet with the Chesterfield Homeowners Association this summer, re-evaluate previous efforts and try to design better speed controls.

Although some residents might like it, Mr. Schroll said, the county cannot install speed bumps, which would hamper emergency vehicles, or close Mansion House Crossing as a through road. He said the solution probably will involve enlarging the traffic circle and installing additional islands to narrow the road.

Mr. Riggin is hopeful that some solution can be found, but he said he would remain skeptical unless motorists' attitudes changed.

"The circle has just become a cheap thrill for someone who likes to ride right over it," said Mr. Riggin, noting that the association has spent $1,000 replacing mulch and making repairs in recent months.

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