NOMINATIONS ARE in on the area's worst intersections for running traffic lights. The only problem is there is no winner -- we're all losers.
Asked last week to report places in the metropolitan area where a yellow light -- and even a red light -- seems to consistently have no meaning, readers called, faxed and wrote in an avalanche of suggested locations.
For starters, nearly any intersection involving two main Baltimore thoroughfares, Martin Luther King Boulevard and North Avenue. Also, the juncture of Lombard and Gay streets was singled out by readers and police alike.
Then there is the potentially deadly spot at 33rd Street and Ellerslie Avenue -- where the Ravens will temporarily roost at Memorial Stadium and up to six cars frequently speed through a red light.
In Anne Arundel County, there's a hot spot at the intersection of Riva Road and West Street and also at Quarterfield and Old Stage roads. Another danger zone is Padonia and York roads in Baltimore County.
How about some others: Harford Road and Rosalie Avenue, Russell and Hamburg streets, Route 40 and Rolling Road, Northern Parkway and Springlake Way, and Greene and Mulberry streets.
"I've almost gotten killed several times there," a reader told the Intrepid One of Cold Spring Lane and Keswick Road near Roland Park.
Your fearless commuter has addressed the persistent problem of running red lights in this space before. Yet the problem is accelerating as drivers who see red refuse to stop.
Despite a fine of $115, it seems running a red light is as common as Old Bay on steamed crabs.
"I think it's almost a sign of the times where people are in such a rush to get places that we don't see courtesy on the road like we used to," said Lt. J. D. Smith of the city police traffic enforcement division. "If drivers come to the intersection and don't see a marked police cruiser, they go through. It's amazing and also very dangerous."
Smith oversees a squad of 14 police officers who stake out certain intersections. But he admits they don't seem to be making much headway. "There is a disregard for a lot of the traffic laws now -- we're noticing a more aggressive way that people drive, with speeders running in and out of lanes and running red lights."
The excuses given by those caught span a broad range, yet, according to an article in The Sun last month, the State Highway Administration reported that nearly 20 people die yearly in accidents attributed to red-light runners. In 1994, 2,246 people were injured in such crashes.
Think about these numbers the next time you approach an amber light.
No way to go with the flow
The clock started running with the car's ignition Wednesday in the parking lot outside Fresh Fields in Mount Washington, home of free-range chicken and traffic incarceration.
Eight minutes later, Intrepid was still waiting -- in the same spot -- to leave the tiny, tres chic shopping center soon to be known as Gridlock Alley.
The only way Intrepid managed to get out of the parking lot in under 10 minutes was to whip out in front of a white Volvo whose driver was daydreaming for two seconds.
It seems the new traffic light at Falls Road and Smith Avenue -- installed to move traffic in and out of the area with ease -- only adds to the flow problem. Stay tuned.
City police warn they are setting numerous radar traps along the Jones Falls Expressway, where speeders have been clocked going up to 80 mph on the 50-mph-limit highway. If you frequently make an illegal left turn onto Franklin Street from Howard Street -- and many do -- expect a ticket as city police and Mass Transit Administration officers have made this intersection a lucrative stakeout. Expect traffic delays on U.S. 50 at in Anne Arundel County next month as an $11 million project to widen a one-mile stretch of the road begins. Seeking traffic updates from ocean resorts? Try the state highways hot line: 1-800-541-9595.
Pub Date: 5/27/96