Resident pushes for a safer Route 140

April 20, 1994|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Sun Staff Writer

Bill Moore is a zealot -- and a cynic -- when it comes to highway safety. His wife's car was struck from behind by a drunken driver as she turned off Route 140 into the Nob Hill development in northwestern Baltimore County, where the Moores live.

About the same time, his daughter's car was struck as she tried to turn out of the community onto the busy highway.

The accidents occurred before the final segment of Interstate 795 between Franklin Boulevard and Route 140 opened in October 1986. Since then, Mr. Moore contends, the safety problem on Route 140 has worsened, and the State Highway Administration has done nothing about it.

Last Wednesday, two mothers and a son died in a head-on collision on the rain-slicked highway near the Nob Hill Park Drive intersection. The most recent state records, which don't include figures for 1993, show at least 165 accidents on the 2.1-mile stretch of Route 140 between I-795 and the Carroll County line since 1987. Those accidents resulted in 191 injuries and five fatalities, including last week's deaths.

Pronounced dead at last Wednesday's crash scene were Clifford Thomas Anderson, 20, and his mother, Mari Carmen Anderson, 43, both of Westminster, and Ellen Mary Nason, 51, of Reisterstown.

The accident occurred when the Andersons' northbound car hydroplaned during a heavy downpour, skidded across the dividing line and collided with Mrs. Nason's southbound automobile, county police said.

Mr. Moore, past president of the Nob Hill Community Association, say he and others have been trying to get the state to do something about what they believe are hazardous conditions on the busy highway ever since I-795 opened.

State Highway Administration (SHA) officials argue that the stretch of Route 140 is not, by their criteria, a dangerous road.

In January, SHA officials and the community met to discuss some traffic safety options. They included construction of a so-called Jersey wall to separate oncoming traffic on the four-lane road; restricting left turns into Nob Hill during peak hours, more vigorous speed enforcement, a reduced speed limit and a traffic light either at Nob Hill Park Drive or the entrance to the Woodleaf development.

Mr. Moore and Ms. Kalinowski agreed that a Jersey wall would not go down well with surrounding residents.

"That would mean if we wanted to leave Nob Hill and drive toward Reisterstown we would have to go five miles to Finksburg in Carroll County and turn around to head back in the direction of Reisterstown," said Mr. Moore.

Ms. Kalinowski conceded that a Jersey wall would cut down on head-on collisions, but she said it would not eliminate them.

Mr. Moore said residents of Nob Hill would prefer to see a traffic light at Nob Hill Park Drive, but Ms. Kalinowski said a light at that intersection would produce dangerous rush hour backups.

Mr. Moore said the state put acceleration lanes on the Nob Hill Park Drive side of Route 140 but could also put in warning lights and reduce the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph.

Both sides hope a solution can be worked out at a meeting scheduled at the SHA Brooklandville office tomorrow.

Ms. Kalinowski said the stretch of Route 140 is not considered particularly dangerous with 113 accidents per 100 million vehicle miles, compared with an average of 188 accidents on similar stretches of highway elsewhere in the state.

So far in 1994, there have been nine accidents, including last week's fatal, in or near the Nob Hill Park Drive intersection, according to county police, who plan speed surveys on the highway over the next several weeks.

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