Northern Parkway grade steep, but crashes are few

THE INTREPID COMMUTER

April 17, 1995

It's been called a "roller coaster," a "sleigh ride" and a "nightmare." Some motorists avoid it; others creep down it. Many live on the wild side and simply soar down it.

At issue is the steep grade on westbound Northern Parkway between Roland Avenue and Falls Road in North Baltimore.

The quarter-mile stretch is one of the city's steepest roads and one of its most traveled, as motorists use the artery to get to the Jones Falls Expressway and to move east and west across town.

Many a motorist -- including the Intrepid One -- has felt a twinge of anxiety upon glancing in the rear-view mirror at oncoming traffic while sitting at the base of the hill waiting for a green light.

Norman J. Needle, who lives in nearby Mount Washington and drives the area about twice a week, said cars waiting at the bottom of the hill are "sitting ducks" to traffic behind them.

"Honestly, in my heart, I don't know why nothing has happened," Mr. Needle said. "When I go down the hill, my foot is on my brake."

He suggested that a barrier be erected to protect cars in the left-turn lane "should a vehicle while going down the hill skid or have a blowout."

Strange though it may seem, few accidents have occurred on the hill in recent years despite its high traffic volume, said Lt. Kenneth Street of the city police traffic division. In winter, he added, city crews salt the hill very heavily, cutting down on fender benders.

Vanessa Pyatt, a city Public Works Department spokeswoman, said that before any changes could occur, traffic studies would be done by the department and accident data gathered.

Speaking of hills: Joyce Keedy of Towson is concerned about the intersection of Glen Arm and Harford roads in northeast Baltimore County, where motorists have a blind spot as they enter Harford Road.

She and many who live in the area or travel in the Glenarm/Fork communities believe the intersection desperately needs a traffic light.

On Glen Arm Road, you approach Harford Road on a slight upgrade. Once you stop at Harford Road and either turn or proceed straight, sightlines are limited, especially on the left, as traffic zooms along Harford Road oblivious to the 35 mph limit.

We ventured there last week and were amazed at how quickly a car was on our rear after turning right from Glen Arm Road.

"You have to really accelerate to get around that corner," said Ms. Keedy, who travels the area twice a week to Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air in Harford County, where she has been the organist for 14 years. "Around rush hour, it gets really bad."

She said the intersection is especially dangerous when the weather is rainy or foggy.

RTC Mark Gonce of the county division of traffic engineering said he is unaware of any traffic accidents at the intersection, but agrees that sight distance is a concern.

Harford Road is a state highway, meaning it's up to the State Highway Administration to decide on a traffic signal.

And the SHA's Mickey Sheridan said his office soon will study the area to determine traffic patterns and whether the intersection is unsafe. He labeled the intersection a "commuter area," which is busy "an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening."

Paving in a park: Many folks, including your Intrepid One, frequently travel through Druid Hill Park en route to many sections of the city. Repaving and redesigning of traffic patterns as you leave the park at Greenspring Avenue and Druid Park Drive was brought to our attention.

After months of work, traffic exiting the park onto Greenspring Avenue now has a left-turn lane but, unlike originally, no right-turn lane.

However, many motorists believe that the majority of cars turn right to head toward Television Hill, the Rotunda or a nearby market and that relatively few turn left.

"Now, you just sit at that darn light," said Judy Aleksalza, who goes through the intersection to her job on Television Hill. "That intersection used to work. Not now."

spokeswoman for the city Public Works Department said the change was made because studies indicated many cars turned left.

But some motorists such as Ms. Aleksalza just don't buy that.

"In the four or five months since the change, I have seen seen exactly four left turns at that intersection and probably a hundred or more right turns," she said.

KEEP IN TOUCH

Write to the Intrepid Commuter, c/o The Baltimore Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278. Please include your name and telephone number so we can reach you if we have any questions.

Or use your Touch-Tone phone to call Sundial, The Baltimore Sun's telephone information service, at 783-1800, and enter Ext. 4305. Call 268-7736 in Anne Arundel County.

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