Hampstead corner called unsafe But police chief disputes neighbors

October 13, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Some Hampstead residents think the intersection of Fairmount Road, Popes Creek Drive and McAllister Lane is dangerous and a nuisance, and they have requested time at the Oct. 18 Town Council meeting to ask the town to do something about it.

Residents said several vehicles traveling east on Fairmount Road have failed to negotiate the curve at the intersection, and have ended up on lawns on the east side of the road.

One car ran over a small tree northeast of the intersection, they said.

"If people can hop the curb here and run over that tree, I'm not sure how safe the kids are," said David Miller, who lives on the northeast corner of the intersection.

He said that he and his wife do not let their 2-year-old son, Zachary, play in their front yard because of the danger.

But Hampstead Police Chief Ken Russell said the intersection "doesn't seem any more dangerous than any other intersection."

He said a computer printout of all accidents reported to either state police or Hampstead police within the town limits in 1992 showed no accidents at that intersection.

Fairmount Road resident John Albert, who is collecting signatures on a petition to ask the town to change the intersection, criticized the grade of the curve.

He said the road slopes toward the outside of the curve, giving drivers inadequate control, especially in wet weather.

The poor grading also causes a major noise annoyance, he said. From spring until early fall, he said, whenever the pavement is warm, tires squeal even when cars are moving slowly.

"It's affecting our property values," Mr. Albert said.

He said people visiting garage sales at his house have said, "Boy, I sure like your house, but I wouldn't want to live near this intersection."

"We can't even sit out on our front porch" in warm months because of the sound of tires squealing, he said. The family leaves its air conditioner running to mask the sound of squealing tires.

Chief Russell said that whether tires squeal depends largely on how people drive and on the tires on their cars.

"My tires don't squeal," he said. "I go across there several times a day."

Another potential safety problem at the intersection, Mr. Albert said, is that eastbound vehicles on Fairmount Road often cut the curve, driving into the oncoming lane.

"This is certainly dumb," said Town Councilwoman Jacqueline Hyatt during rush hour Thursday as she watched car after car traveling eastbound on Fairmount Drive cut across the double yellow line.

"This little corner is the worst I've ever seen for confusion," she said.

One cause of confusion at the corner, Mr. Albert said, is that westbound vehicles on Fairmount Road do not have to stop at the stop sign if they are turning right -- but drivers on Popes Creek Drive and McAllister Lane may not realize that westbound Fairmount Road traffic does not have to stop.

Mr. Albert has proposed several possible solutions.

They include: installing a stop sign for eastbound Fairmount Road traffic; moving the stop line for westbound Fairmount Road traffic farther back, to make the curve less severe for eastbound traffic; and regrading the entire intersection.

Hampstead Mayor Clint Becker said Thursday that the town probably will get a traffic engineer to examine the intersection and make a recommendation.

Chief Russell said yesterday that he would be opposed to install- ing a stop sign for eastbound traffic.

He said people traveling within the speed limit should have no problem negotiating the curve.

He also said repainting the pavement markings to smooth out the curve would not eliminate the problem of people cutting the curve, but would only cause them to cut the curve tighter.

Mayor Becker said regrading the intersection may not be practical because "you're talking lots of dollars."

Mr. Miller said that, when he bought his home in summer 1990, he was told that the intersection would be a four-way stop.

Mayor Becker said he thought that plan had been changed after residents who use Fairmount Road objected to having to stop at the corner.

"I don't feel sorry for them," Mr. Albert said.

"They have to put up with it for five seconds a day. I have to put up with it 24 hours a day."

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