For 5 blocks, go 3 miles Construction: Homeland residents become irate as refurbishing the main drag turns a short trip into a lengthy maze.

Intrepid Commuter

October 20, 1997

WANT TO SEE the city's newest version of a maze? Try driving through Homeland.

That's where Baltimore's Department of Public Works officials have reconfigured most of the tony neighborhood's streets as a private contractor refurbishes the area's main drag, Homeland Avenue.

The $1.4 million project was kicked off this month as a fleet of construction vehicles arrived to begin drilling holes in the pavement, digging up utility lines and busting up sidewalks and gutters.

But what about the poor folks who have to live there?

Jennie Wilber, who lives off Homeland Avenue, told Intrepid One she must drive three miles out of her way just to get home. She described the process as "impossible."

The detour was designed by Homeland Community Association and city bureaucrats to reroute and block traffic so cars don't stream through Homeland during construction.

But what a mess it has created!

"Everybody is miserable, and people are making short cuts and going the wrong way along new one-way streets," said Wilber. "They are cutting through alleys and driveways. It's so bad a police car has been stationed at Paddington Road to monitor things. And that's a waste of a precious police resource."

Wilber, who before construction drove five short blocks along Homeland Avenue to return home from her job at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, added: "Going three miles out of my way is just horrendous. It's a mess. For those of us who live in Homeland, it's a real problem."

Other residents also have complained to Intrepid about the project, expected to be completed in the spring.

Public Works spokesman Kurt L. Kocher urged those baffled by the situation to call the department's help line at 410-396-5819.

"We always involve the community," Kocher said. "It's very important to get their input. And if we find some of it doesn't work, we are always open for ways of changing it."

In the meantime -- in a move that could further confuse Homeland residents and other city commuters -- officials have pledged to reopen Homeland Avenue to traffic between the first phase of replacing utility lines and the second phase of resurfacing.

Here's a rundown of the new traffic patterns:

Temporary closures: Homeland Avenue from Charles Street to Woodbourne Avenue; Woodbourne Avenue at Willowmere Way.

One-way eastbound: Homeland Avenue from Crowson Avenue to York Road; Tunbridge Road from Spring Lake Way to Willowmere Way; Taplow Road from Tilbury Way to Bellona Avenue; St. Dunstans Road from Tilbury Way to Bellona Avenue.

One-way westbound: Paddington Road from St. Albans Way to Spring Lake Way; Tunbridge Road from St. Albans Way to Spring Lake Way.

Two-way: Homeland Avenue from Crowson Avenue to Woodbourne Avenue

There's more. Here's a rundown of the area's detours:

From south of Homeland, head north on Charles Street, right on Northern Parkway, right on Bellona Avenue and south on York Road to Homeland Avenue; or south on Charles Street, left on Cold Spring Lane, north on York Road to Homeland Avenue.

Heading west, there's a detour north on York Road, left on Bellona Avenue, left on Northern Parkway and left on Charles Street to Homeland Avenue.

Whew! All Intrepid can say is, steel yourself before a trip to or around Homeland.

At intersection, look left, look right, and then pray

Since Thornton Road was extended at Seminary Avenue in June, commuters have traveled through the intersection deep in prayer. That's because divine intervention is about what it takes to continue north on Thornton where it crosses Seminary, particularly during rush hours.

Numerous accidents have occurred there, State Highway Administration chief engineer Randall Scott revealed to Intrepid last week. In response, Scott said he ordered a study of the intersection to determine whether a traffic light is needed there.

The answer was yes. But hold the phone. Scott said the light won't be installed until spring because that's how long it takes for state bureaucrats to complete paperwork for the new device that will cost taxpayers $80,000.

"It's like if you were constructing a house, you can't just throw it up overnight," Scott said. "Things have to be done in turn, and the average schedule is nine months from the decision to install the signal, to put it up."

So, dear drivers, take heed when approaching this hot spot in Lutherville. And know that help is on the way from your government -- but all in due time. In other words, keep praying at Seminary and Thornton.

Pub Date: 10/20/97

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