'Racetrack' near school worries parents, guard Slow: Providence Road just inside the Beltway looks like a speedway as motorists sprint toward Goucher Boulevard, ignoring signs that warn of an elementary school

Intrepid Commuter

November 04, 1996

THE PTA AT Cromwell Valley Elementary School is at red alert over a problem right in its front yard.

The school of 458 students is on Providence Road, just south of Interstate 695. But drive by anytime and you'd think you were at Daytona as cars exit from the Beltway and head toward Goucher Boulevard as if they were racing for the checkered flag.

From Goucher, though, it's even worse. There's a curve just before the elementary school's crosswalk through which cars often careen. Brakes screech, tires burn and near pile-ups put forth quite a scare each day.

Just Friday, a two-car collision wrecked the morning homeroom calm. All this putting children at near-catastrophic risk as they try to get in and out of school.

The crosswalk has been braved by Cindy Garayoa, who for the past three years has been a crossing guard. At times, though, Garayoa told Intrepid One, the bright orange vest she must wear is the only warning speeders notice as they approach the school. She's had five near accidents herself.

It seems the yellow signs Baltimore County traffic engineers put up in the area warning of the school go unnoticed most of the time.

"As soon as they make that curve, they are right up on top of you," Garayoa said. "By the time I hold up the stop sign and blow my whistle, they've gone right by me."

Darrell Wiles, a county traffic official, last week acknowledged that the problem is serious. He blames the speed on commuters using Providence Road as a connector between the Beltway and Towson.

"This is a tough situation," Wiles told Intrepid. "It's a connector road, and there's a lot of traffic and high exposure. It's a tough road to change drivers' behavior on because of the function of the road."

County officials, school administrators and parents plan to meet within two weeks and hash out possible solutions to slow traffic. One idea from PTA President Shelly Mariner is to install flashing lights to warn of the school's peak hours at 8: 50 a.m. and 3: 50 p.m.

Until then, Principal Theresa Flak says she hopes the school's guardian angel will continue to stand by Garayoa in the crosswalk: "I pray this will work."

Vehicle dealers moving to online tag registration

Next time you buy a car, you may drive it off the lot with license plates attached instead of those tacky cardboard temporary tags. It's part of a 2-year-old effort by the Motor Vehicles Administration to electronically link the state's 1,289 new and used car dealers so they can register cars on the spot.

The effort may be convenient, but it'll cost you, Intrepid has learned. Prepare to shell out an extra $20 for the service -- on top of the sticker price, tax, title and regular tag costs.

Time is the top benefit of this service -- as in you don't have to return to the dealership to see the pasted smiles of the salespeople who sold you the gig in the first place in order to pick up your tags. For state vehicle bureaucrats, the service saves hassles in their Glen Burnie office in this time of downsizing, says MVA spokeswoman Marilyn J. Corbett.

The technology seems to be the wave of the future. Maryland is one of seven states trying the computer-auto dealer hookup. Other states are calling for information and referrals.

In two years, the program has grown -- in August, 12.9 percent of the cars sold were registered via wire, a huge jump over August 1995, when only 3.4 percent of cars were computer registered.

With 300 dealers hooking up, Corbett says the MVA is targeting a larger group that includes fleets. The goal is to increase the percentage of wire titles to 30 percent by 1998.

Shortcuts

Public works bureaucrats in Baltimore say they plan to keep the street parking along Northern Parkway just west of Falls Road. The parking, illegal during morning and evening rush hours, serves houses that face the busy intersection -- much to the dismay of motorists. Today marks the first ride of the year for the MTA's homeless shelter bus, a shuttle that provides free transportation to shelters from seven city locations from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily until April 14. Last year, buses carried 9,381 people. Hats off to this noble effort.

Pub Date: 11/04/96

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