Accident boosts plea for signal Residents want light sooner at crossing where crash occurred


A fatal accident Monday at Route 32 and Londontown Boulevard in Eldersburg has led to renewed efforts to have a traffic signal installed at the busy intersection.

South Carroll residents have been lobbying nearly three years for a traffic signal at the intersection, and the State Highway Administration is expected to install a light there in the spring.

Residents and others speculated that a signal might have prevented the fatal accident at 8: 15 a.m. Monday. The victim, Eric L. Lake, 31, of Howard County, was traveling north on Route 32 when his vehicle struck the back of a construction truck that was turning south onto the highway from Londontown Boulevard.

Lake was pronounced dead at the scene, state police said.

Rapid growth in the Eldersburg area has so increased traffic congestion that motorists say they often must wait many minutes during rush hour before they can turn north or south from side roads on-to Route 32.

A shopping center opened recently on the east side of Route 32, with access from Londontown Boulevard. More than 100 homes have been built on the west side of Route 32, off Bartholow Road, which provides access to Parrish Park.

Mark Roeder, a spokesman for the Giant store in the shopping plaza, said, "Giant wants its customers to be safe, so we are going to go back to state officials" to see whether the light can be installed sooner.

Roeder noted that the developer of the shopping plaza paid for the traffic study that convinced state highway officials a signal should be installed.

Statistics for traffic accidents at the intersection were not immediately available, said 1st. Sgt. Robert Windsor, a spokesman at the state police barracks in Westminster.

Chris Letnauchin, a planner in the county's Transportation Department, said state highway figures for 1995, the most recent available, show that nearly 11,000 vehicles traveled Route 32 north of Route 26 on an average day.

About 33,000 vehicles traveled Route 26 east of Route 32 daily in 1995, he said, and about 22,000 vehicles traveled on Route 26 west of Route 32.

Donna Slack, a Parrish Park resident, said traffic studies are outdated because of the rapid increase in commercial development near Londontown Boulevard and Route 32.

Dan Hughes, a South Carroll activist who founded Solutions for a Better South Carroll, agreed, noting that commercial development has created the congestion.

"The problem is just going to get worse, exacerbated by the growing commercial development," he said.

Residents sought to have a signal installed at the intersection three years ago, but state Department of Transportation officials questioned the validity of a traffic study conducted in January 1994.

Highway officials said an ice storm might have adversely affected the developer's study of the average daily traffic count.

Dr. Joel Hassman, whose Parrish Park home overlooks Route 32 and Londontown Boulevard, recalled a pedestrian's being struck there in October 1994.

"Traffic studies for that area are woeful at best," he said.

There was a serious accident at the intersection Sept. 11, the day the Giant store opened, and a close call a week later, Hassman said.

"It's a disaster that now has happened" he said, referring to Monday's fatal accident.

Pub Date: 11/20/96

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