Fast fleets on Fleetwood Ave. Scofflaws: A sleepy residential street becomes a speed strip for pizzeria drivers and other shortcut seekers. Neighbors want police to deliver a strong message.

Intrepid Commuter

June 17, 1996

FLEETWOOD AVENUE in Northeast Baltimore is lined with houses that sport shady front porches, red geraniums and colorful vanity flags.

It seems like a peaceful hamlet in Hamilton -- as long as you ignore the cars whizzing by.

The street turns into a drag strip as commuters and pizza delivery drivers from a nearby shop routinely ignore the 25 mph speed limit and use Fleetwood as a shortcut to Northern Parkway from Harford Road.

"There are speeding cars day and night," said Paula Wilson, a mother of three young children who says she nearly gets dizzy observing the speed of vehicles passing her house. "The cars easily do 40 or 50 mph down here."

Fleetwood is wider than the average city residential street, neighbors say. That's to accommodate trucks from the city fire station at the tip of the 2900 block, where Fleetwood joins Harford Road.

But neighbors blame the wide street -- and the lack of stop signs for three running blocks -- for tempting drivers to cut through as they attempt to shave a few minutes by avoiding the busy Harford Road-Northern Parkway intersection.

Making matters worse are the drivers making deliveries for a Domino's Pizza store in the 6500 block of Harford Road who also speed along Fleetwood in cars sporting the company's familiar red, white and blue logo, resident Christopher Klein says.

"It's really bad on Friday evenings between 4 and 7 p.m.," says Klein, a father of three. "We sit on the porch, have a beer and watch the cars go by."

The problem is so bad, Klein suggested in a recent letter to your Intrepid One, that city police could set a speed trap on his street and "help alleviate some of the budget concerns in the city" with the fines that would result.

An officer at the Northeastern District said a speed trap on Fast Fleetwood is possible. He said the district has a roving radar team that may pay a visit.

The police may have company, though. When informed by Intrepid last week about complaints of Daytonalike driving, Domino's area supervisor Alison Dykes promised the company would conduct its own surveillance of Fleetwood.

"We'll watch the street a couple of nights a week and have something done," Dykes said. "Our policy is that all drivers drive in a safe manner and obey traffic laws. If they don't, we retrain them or replace them."

Hold the anchovies and stay tuned.

Charles Street Crawl to last another month

Commuters heading north on Charles Street at the rush hours start to feel the pangs of a whopper headache when they approach Pratt Street. That's where a crew from Whiting-Turner Construction Co. has been hunkering down lately on a project that has claimed two of the four lanes -- causing a traffic backup that moves like a sleepy snail.

When asked by Intrepid to define the project and tell why it is taking up precious, premium downtown street space, Nicole Engleman of Whiting-Turner declined, saying she had to first ask permission from owner Willard Hackerman to outline the job. At press time, Engleman still had not returned Intrepid's call.

The city Department of Public Works was more obliging, explaining that the job involves work on an underground steam line. The Charles Street Crawl is expected to last at least another month, said Kurt Kocher, a DPW spokesman.

No detour was envisioned to ease the backup because, after all, two of the four lanes remain open, he said.

A question about overlap in police jurisdictions

Anthony Winder recently witnessed an accident at the corner of Lombard and Paca Streets near the busy University of Maryland at Baltimore complex. Taking statements at the scene were city and UMAB police officers.

Winder wonders just who has jurisdiction in this traffic fiasco? And what would happen if a Mass Transit Police officer also were on the scene? Who has ultimate authority?

Barney Fife, step aside. A quick survey showed there are 193 law enforcement agencies in Maryland -- one state police force, one Department of Natural Resources force, and a plethora of municipal, county, campus and miscellaneous public safety and corrections agencies. (Did we mention citizen arrests?)

Cpl. Laura Lu Herman, a state police spokeswoman, said a limited number of these agencies have jurisdiction over Maryland's roads. In the case of the state police, for instance, troopers have enforcement rights in all areas of the state except Baltimore City and on federal property.

Herman said she could not interpret the "missions" of other police agencies as far as jurisdictional questions. She did, however, advise that drivers are responsible for obeying traffic laws wherever they go, whether it be on campus, in a state park, on the grounds of a state prison or on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

Back to Winder's wondering about the accident at Lombard and Paca: City Police Officer Raymond Howard, of the traffic accident investigation unit, said that although campus police and city police have concurrent jurisdiction in the area, it's the job of Baltimore's finest to file the accident report for such a mishap.

The Beltway Banshee, and other tidings

SHORTCUTS: Drivers at last are being alerted to the wail of the Beltway Banshee, that strange humming sound resonating from grooved pavement between Interstate 83 and Reisterstown Road. Bright orange signs stating "Grooved Pavement, Road Noise" dot the Beltway where the Banshee sings as part of a $55 million widening project. Next month, state highway crews will begin work on portions of Jarrettsville Pike from Blenheim Road to the Harford County line. SEEN ON THE BELTWAY: A bumper sticker with political zing: "Nixon in 96: The Ultimate Trick."

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