Riderwood says, 'Stop' Speed: People living along a residential commuter shortcut say they're fed up with speeding motorists. They want flashers, stop signs -- even a banner urging caution.

Intrepid Commuter

March 24, 1997

THORNTON ROAD IN Riderwood is a suburban juxtaposition: It's home to split-level heaven, while also a strategic -- yet dangerous -- commuter shortcut between Joppa and Seminary roads.

The extra-wide, two-lane road, designed and built in the late 1940s, is traveled by close to 900 vehicles at peak rush hours, many of which race along the street at speeds close to 50 mph. A horrific fatal accident last year led neighbors to declare, "Enough."

And some of those neighbors have connections in high places.

"I would like to see something happen here," says C. A. Ruppersberger, father of Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger and a resident of Thornton Road for 33 years. "It is a through street, and people use it as a through street."

Other neighbors in Village Green, Longford and Thornleigh are starting an aggressive drive to attract the attention of county traffic engineers. Two town meetings have been held -- one of which turned quite angry -- and memos are flying between Riderwood and the office of County Councilman Douglas B. Riley, a Towson Republican who also has intervened.

At issue is classification of Thornton as a "collector road," or a road designed to carry cars other than just local traffic. Collector roads don't have stop signs to impede traffic, county officials insist.

But neighbors want flashing warning lights, traffic lights and even permission to hang a banner across Thornton Road from an overpass of Interstate 695 pleading for slow, safe passage.

Darrell Wiles, the county's chief traffic engineer, told Intrepid last week that changes are in store.

Two traffic studies soon will consider the merits of traffic lights: one at Thornton and Seminary, where an extension of Thornton is slated to open this spring, attracting traffic from Timonium; the other at Thornton and Joppa.

County work crews will also repaint the crosswalk at Riderwood Elementary School to serve as a bright warning beacon to slow down.

"There will be adjustments," Wiles promised. Stay tuned.

Silver not a lining in this gray cloud

A local commuter named John passed under the construction site at the Falls Road bridge on Interstate 695 recently and was greeted by a shower -- of hot metal.

The liquid silver didn't add any luster to his new gold Toyota. Rather, the metal, from a worker's blowtorch above, immediately welded into parts of his car, with one drop even melting into the ding it made on the windshield on the driver's side -- where it remains, souvenirlike, today.

"I was very thankful I was not driving a convertible," John told your Intrepid wheelster last week. "I looked up and I saw this wonderful, shining, white-hot metal shard coming down."

John said there was no warning given to drivers that morning about the construction, nor were lanes closed.

But State Highway Administration spokeswoman Valerie Burnette Edgar said the Beltway is loaded with warnings -- bright orange signs that caution drivers about the $55 million, 2 1/2 -year effort to widen the Beltway to eight lanes between southbound Interstate 83 (the Jones Falls Expressway) and Reisterstown Road.

As for John, Edgar advises him to file a claim with the Maryland treasurer's office, the agency that handles certain damage claims on state property.

And look out for the Beltway's gray rain.

Counters have found some leftover beans

The city's Department of Public Works is facing some pleasant leftovers these days.

With last week's arrival of spring, DPW bean counters took a look at the snow-removal ledgers and delighted in $300,000 in unused salt and overtime funds in the $1.6 million snow budget.

Let's face it -- it's an unusual situation in City Hall these days, particularly with a projected $20 million gap in the general fund.

What's a department to do with the extra cash? Intrepid One sought answers last week.

"We really don't know," said spokesman Kurt L. Kocher. "It may be used to buy additional snow-related equipment like computers for tracking storms. We are trying to be as technologically advanced as we can in responding to citizen complaints."

Cyberspace might have to hold, though. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke could demand that DPW chief George G. Balog "show me the money" when the time comes to balance the city's oozing red budget.

Pub Date: 3/24/97

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