Nightingale's screeching sound Intersection: A dangerous convergence of Nightingale Way, Bellona Avenue and Charles Street has drivers hitting brakes, honking horns.

Intrepid Commuter

June 03, 1996

WHAT DOES a nightingale have in common with Bellona Avenue and Charles Street?

Certainly not a sweet song. In this case, Nightingale is a place, as in little Nightingale Way in old Lutherville where you're likely to hear screeching brakes and horns as drivers attempt to navigate the very dangerous intersection of Charles and Bellona.

Actually, there are three intersections of Bellona and Charles, but the hot spot in question is the one just north of the Beltway's Charles Street exit. At that intersection, cars traveling north and east are required to stop and yield to vehicles heading west around a tricky curve on Bellona.

It produces a daily game of vehicular Russian roulette as drivers (including your Intrepid One) try to figure who goes first.

"It's impossible," said Joyce Restivo, a legal secretary who travels through the intersection daily to get to her office in the Cardiff at Charles apartments via Nightingale Way.

"All in all, it's crying for a stop light," added her boss, attorney Bernard Link.

Ironically, folks trying to reach the regional American Automobile Association office -- a popular source of information on how to get to places the quickest and safest way -- must navigate the messy intersection.

"Our members feel very insecure going through that intersection," said Sharon Perry, an AAA spokeswoman. "It's right off of the Beltway, so they like the convenience. But what they like in convenience, they dislike in the fact that it's unsafe."

The heaviest traffic and steamiest tempers occur at rush hour. Many times, frustrated drivers wait a small eternity (measured as a complete song on the radio) before darting into traffic, sometimes barely missing a broadside collision.

Your Intrepid One steers daily through this vehicular ballet on her way to the office. (A similar problem occurs about 20 yards away, where the westbound Beltway exit ramp to Charles Street feeds into Bellona.)

The problem has been studied by the State Highway Administration, which is at an impasse over how to solve the intersection woes, said engineer Darrell Wiles. A stop light would cause a three-way backup at the intersection, he says.

Suggestions are welcome.

South Baltimore roads: are they going to pot?

In South Baltimore, affectionately called SoBo, residents are fed up with what they call "bone-jarring" commutes. It seems that city road crews have forgotten how to get to SoBo -- how else to account for potholes that make the road look like Swiss cheese?

To say nothing of the uneven patches where cobblestones of yesteryear peek out of the asphalt.

Ann Madden, a reader and traveling dog groomer from South SoBo -- Brooklyn to be exact -- lamented this problem in a letter to Intrepid last month. While driving to and fro to pamper SoBo's pooches, Madden said she is distressed by the bumpy rides.

In particular, Madden pointed out a stretch of Potee Street near Cherry Hill as an all-purpose tire-buster and hubcap-remover. The commute across the Vietnam War Memorial Bridge and along Potee and Hanover streets is such a jerky ride that she can't help but feel geographically forsaken. "South-South Baltimore is surely overlooked," she said.

As a remedy, Kurt Kocher, acting spokesman for the city Department of Public Works, encourages all to report bumpy pot holes by dialing POT HOLE (768-4653). Smoother results are promised within 24 hours, he said.

On broken windshields, enough blame for all

Attack by fax: In response to Intrepid's recent observation of how the absence of mud flaps on urban assault vehicles -- or four-wheel drives -- has led to the chipping of some windshields by flying rocks and debris, an anonymous fax steamed through the other day.

The sender took a personal snipe at our reader, Nancy from Cockeysville, for reporting the problem to Intrepid One and for suggesting that some windshields look like Waterford crystal.

"I happen to own a so-called assault vehicle, a Chevrolet Blazer, and my windshield just so happens to have stone pits, too," the faxed missive says.

"These chips in my windshield did not come from a four-wheel-drive vehicle, but from cars, both midsized and compact. It does not make any difference what size or make of the vehicle. Sounds like Nancy should try staying off the highway -- with her Waterford crystal."

Wanted: Readers' list of worst ticket traps

Short Cuts: Intrepid is in search of the area's worst ticket traps. An example is the intersection of Orleans and Washington streets near Johns Hopkins Hospital, where a "No-Left-Turn" restriction between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. hamstrings hospital employees trying to leave work. To head north, law-abiding drivers have to cut through tiny Castle Street, often lined with children at play. A smoother surface for Park Heights Avenue in Baltimore County soon will be in the works. State Highway Administration officials said the new pavement will cost $357,422 and stretch from Autumn Drive to Greenspring Valley Road.

Pub Date: 6/03/96

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