'I feel like I'm in prison' Barriers: Adding his complaint to those of drivers on Interstate 695, a resident who lives behind sound barriers calls them "a waste of taxpayers' money."

The Intrepid Commuter

June 29, 1998

LAST WEEK, Intrepid released the results of an unscientific survey of commuters' opinions on aesthetics of the new sound barriers that line portions of Interstate 695.

To sum it up, nearly all drivers found them distasteful.

Frank F. Braunstein lives behind the walls and wrote your wheelster a lengthy description of barrier life.

"I feel like I'm in prison," says Braunstein, who has lived in the Stevenson Village Condominium complex in Pikesville for 15 years. "It cuts down on circulation. If we have a snow, it'll lay there, because there's no breeze coming through. It really takes away a lot.

"I also see or hear no difference from when the walls weren't there. I believe that the walls were, and are, a waste of taxpayers' money that could have been better used for more or better mass transportation to cut down on car travel. I walk for exercise and you still hear the truck noise."

In fairness, Intrepid has interviewed homeowners who live behind the walls who told of tranquillity now that they are shielded from Beltway noise.

The newest blond, concrete barriers are part of the $55 million highway expansion under way to widen the Beltway from six to eight lanes over a four-mile stretch between Reisterstown Road and Interstate 83. That has to be done to handle the suburban traffic flooding into the city and Baltimore County.

With traffic at peak levels almost 24 hours a day, the State Highway Administration -- and the federal government -- were called on to help muffle the noise.

More barriers are planned for other areas of the Beltway and along interstates in Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

Intrepid invites others who live behind the walls to weigh in with their stories. Call, write or send a fax to the appropriate numbers listed -- and please identify yourselves. Opinions might be published.

New flashing yellow light aids Arundel intersection

Wednesday was D-Day in Anne Arundel County, as the Department of Public Works activated a flashing yellow light at Forest Drive and South Cherry Grove Road.

Officials say the new traffic signal will improve commuter safety between Bywater and Hilltop roads.

In other Arundel action, drivers will no longer be allowed to make a left turn onto or from Newtowne or Greenbriar roads. Instead, motorists will be directed through the South Cherry Grove Road intersection and the new South Cherry connector that links Newtowne and Greenbriar Roads.

With new concrete curb, Guilford says 'Unwelcome!'

You might notice an addition to the stately neighborhood of Guilford these days.

It's a very unwelcoming concrete curb being constructed at St. Paul Street, blocking entrance to Millbrook Road. This gives new meaning to the term "gated community." Rather, it appears to be a modern take on a moat to protect Guilfordites from the rest of the city dwellers -- and the occasional Baltimore County resident who might wander toward one of Baltimore's most chic neighborhoods.

Taxpayers are footing the bill for the $149,000 curb job that will offer a tasteful "paved appearance" when completed by contractors from Machado Co., city Department of Public Works spokesman Kurt L. Kocher explained to Intrepid.

Kocher said the reality of the permanent curb won't hit quite as hard because the road has been blocked by ugly neon orange spikes for two years -- a city-sponsored test for the local residents to see if they liked the elimination of traffic from St. Paul Street.

But don't look for the isolationist movement to stop there.

Less than one mile away, Homeland residents are in negotiations with Kocher and other DPW bureaucrats to figure out how to block their neighborhood from cut-through commuter riff-raff.

Intrepid can't help but wonder if such a taxpayer-funded strategy might work to help block crime-related traffic in other neighborhoods -- like Druid Heights or Collington Square.

Shortcuts

You can get the latest commuter news on TCI's Cable Channel 21 daily. Mass Transit Administration officials have started airing traffic updates at 5: 30 a.m. daily on the station. Carroll County drivers beware: Bureau of Road Operations workers will be patching Klees Mill Road, repairing the shoulder on St. Paul Road and doing ditch-line work on Keysville Road this week.

Pub Date: 6/29/98

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