Neighborhood's sign a little too eye-catching Obstruction: Community's large billboard welcoming visitors also poses a visual hazard for motorists traveling on Hillen Road.

The Intrepid Commuter

January 19, 1998

HOW COMFORTING it is to see a green and gold sign on Hillen Road welcoming all to the tidy community near Lake Montebello.

Unless, of course, you're trying to drive.

The large board -- which reads "Hillen Road Improvement Association" -- sits on the grassy median near the Victorian-style water filtration plant and is a nuisance to commuters trying to navigate Hillen, also known as Perring Parkway -- Baltimore's answer to the Daytona Speedway.

Well-intentioned community leaders placed the sign as a friendly beacon for their neighborhood, city Department of Public Works officials say.

But someone forgot to bring a tape measure, DPW bureaucrats told Intrepid One last week. Instead of the welcome wagon, they have a sign that towers well into a driver's sightline, particularly at Roundhill Road.

There, drivers can barely see over, under or through the legs of the sign to turn north onto Hillen.

City traffic engineers who visited the scene last week and measured the sign found that it violated road specs. Look for the board to soon be shortened by city workers -- and until then, proceed with caution.

Intrepid One seeks stories about automobile thefts

Intrepid One seeks stories from victims of auto theft in the Baltimore area.

Maryland State Police say this crime affected 23,237 drivers last year -- a drop of 16 percent from 1996 crime statistics, but a major inconvenience nonetheless.

Your wheelster wants to hear about the happenings surrounding your vehicle rip-off. Stories might be published. Call the Intrepid hot line at 410-783-1800, Ext. 4305 or, from Anne Arundel County, 410-268-7736. Or write to the address above.

Flimsy light at intersection near Glyndon will be fixed

Atop a utility pole at Worthington Avenue and Sagamore Forest Lane east of Glyndon, it seems only the grace of God is holding a streetlight to its perch.

The top support of the light has broken, and nearby resident Ray Hughes worries that a heavy snow or ice load could send the fixture crashing into the intersection.

Baltimore County traffic chief Darrell Wiles pledged immediate repair last week, either by county work crews or Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which maintains the poles.

Future sightings of streetlight woes may be reported to Wiles' office at 410-887-3554 or BGE.

Highway safety advocates push for lower alcohol limit

Another push is under way this year by highway safety advocates to persuade the General Assembly to lower the standard for drunken driving in Maryland -- which could save at least 50 lives a year.

A coalition called ".08 in '98" will back legislation that would lower the concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream that constitutes drunken driving from 0.10 to 0.08. The standard for driving under the influence would be reduced from 0.07 to 0.06.

The effort was endorsed last week by AAA of Maryland, saying crashes attributed to driving under the influence cost $45 billion nationally each year.

Susan Edkins, a spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said 0.08 is based on research that shows that "everybody is impaired at that level," while opponents say the current standard is working and that the lower standard could subject motorists who have drunk moderate amounts of alcohol to penalties. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the average man weighing 170 pounds would have to drink five drinks in one hour and the average woman weighing 137 pounds four drinks in one hour to exceed the 0.08 standard.

Shortcuts

It was delightful to see the brigades of salt trucks making their way around the metropolitan area during Thursday's wimpy show of sleet. It seems those trucks have been anxiously idling while awaiting some form of winter wrath during Florida-like temperatures. The early December drive by the Maryland Transportation Authority at Baltimore's toll facilities for Toys for Tots netted a record 7,100 gifts, officials said. It was the seventh year state motorists have donated toys to Maryland's needy children at the toll booths -- an overall haul of 53,000 gifts since 1990.

Pub Date: 1/19/98

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