Gas prices drop, but not by much Money: A survey shows jTC that motorists are saving a few cents per gallon compared with last month -- but still paying 7 cents more than last summer.

The Intrepid Commuter

July 15, 1996

THREE CENTS.

That's the savings per gallon of self-serve unleaded gasoline over last month's average pump price of $1.33 per gallon, Intrepid has learned from a AAA of Maryland survey of 30 gas stations in the state.

With vacations in full swing, the savings could equal about 60 cents per fill-up -- hardly enough to buy a soda.

The gasoline price survey, conducted in all counties except Prince George's, Charles and Montgomery, concluded that pump costs have decreased about 3 cents across the board since last month. But the savings don't hold up to last year's lower prices -- it costs 7 cents more per gallon to fill up this July.

The biggest jump is in the cost of self-serve diesel fuel, which cost $1.25 per gallon in July 1995 and today averages $1.36 per gallon.

Last month's self-serve premium gas prices averaged $1.51 per gallon while this month, the cost is down to $1.48 a gallon.

MTA bus No. 10 slows Gridlock Alley more

As if traffic isn't bad enough on Gridlock Alley, that T-shaped thoroughfare of frustration near the Fresh Fields store at Smith Avenue and Falls Road, the folks at the Mass Transit Administration have slowed things down a bit more.

They just added a bus stop at the tip of the Smith Avenue bridge.

So next time you sit in traffic munching on fat-free tortillas while waiting to exit the city's newest upscale shopping mecca, you may not be able to give it gas after the light finally turns green. Instead, you may have to wait for the No. 10 coach to pick up or dispense passengers at this extremely clogged intersection.

And another thing: Your Intrepid wheelster witnessed a fiasco of a different sort at that very spot last month. A firetruck heading south on Falls Road to an emergency was powerless to navigate around the gridlocked mess and was forced to stop with its siren blaring, horn blasting and firefighters red-faced with anger. Drivers near the thwarted truck looked on in fear and disgust.

Officials at the city's Department of Public Works say they plan to investigate "the traffic signal situation" -- the very mess that they created there nearly 50 days ago. Possible solutions include retiming the traffic lights that govern the Kelly Avenue and Smith Avenue bridges.

But city bureaucrats may want to consider Intrepid's proposal for this hopeless gridlock: have your car airlifted into the strip of shops, a church, post office, swimming pool and skating rink. Stay tuned.

Taking the 'death turn' on MLK Boulevard

While traveling south on Martin Luther King Boulevard, Roderick Burns gets sweaty palms when he nears the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue.

That's where he daily takes "a total dare for the death turn" to head east on Pennsylvania into town.

"There is no turn signal there, and the cars heading north are coming at you at lightning speed," says Burns. "Please help us."

Indeed, Burns and other drivers who want to head east from the southbound lane face a daring challenge to their judgment. Adding to their amazement is the liberty given to drivers heading north on MLK who want to turn west onto Pennsylvania Avenue -- they have a luxurious green turning arrow.

City traffic officials say the lone turning arrow was granted in 1985 to northbound drivers because they determined traffic flow is heavier in that direction. If they had installed a turning green from the opposite direction, it could "hold up the northbound traffic," said Kurt Kocher, a spokesman for the Department of Public Works.

Kocher hinted, though, that some relief may be in sight for Burns and other jittery southbound drivers at the Pennsylvania intersection. A top city traffic engineer, Fred Marc, has launched a study on how to improve the entire MLK stretch. This large overdue undertaking is expected to yield some changes very soon, Kocher says.

Intrepid invites commuters to share suggestions for how city traffic engineers can improve MLK Boulevard.

Frederick's invasion of the 'Hoke rope'

Last week, Frederick County commissioners took drastic action to protect the neighborhood of Kingsbrook from lead-footed invaders.

The panel approved installation of thick ropes stretched across the streets to shock -- and bump -- speeding motorists driving through.

The idea came from commission President Mark L. Hoke, who once installed a similar device, named the "Hoke rope," at the exit to Fort Detrick when he was a commander there.

"You put a speed bump down and after a while the attitude changes and the people are screaming at you to take it up," Hoke says. The Hoke rope worked so well at the fort that it was retracted after a few days when drivers -- upset about having their vehicles roped like rodeo animals -- promised not to speed anymore.

"Everybody got real upset about it and we took it up," Hoke said. "When the speeding started again all I had to do was hang the rope near the exit and they slowed down."

Shortcuts

Look for the reopening of Howard Street between Baltimore and Saratoga streets to vehicles in September. The stretch is to undergo a six-month traffic flow test at the request of local merchants who complain the light rail-only traffic is choking off business.

Pub Date: 7/15/96

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