Area near fatal crash needs speed bumps, says Sykesville man Petition asks county to ban truck traffic on road

July 31, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

A Sykesville resident urged the County Commissioners yesterday to put speed bumps and a three-way stop sign on Monroe Avenue near the site where two teen-age cousins were killed in a car accident last month.

Nimrod Davis, who lives near the scene of the accident, gave the commissioners a petition "signed by at least 95 percent of the people on the street" asking for the "traffic-calming devices" and a ban on through truck traffic.

He said the county has created "a traffic monstrosity" in the Eldersburg area by trying to reduce traffic on major arteries such as Routes 26 and 32 and directing it to side streets such as Monroe Avenue.

"Our street has been turned into a thoroughfare rather than a quiet residential street," he said. The speed limit is 25 mph but drivers often travel at more than 55 mph, he said.

"We've had two accidents and two fatalities" recently at a curve on Monroe Avenue near Sherryl Avenue, he said.

The deaths of Jill Marie Peay, 15, of Sykesville and Jessica Erin Harley, 16, of Shady Side in Anne Arundel County occurred shortly before midnight June 26. A car traveling south on Monroe Avenue went out of control and struck a tree near Sherryl Avenue, investigators said.

The girls were passengers in the car. The accident remains under investigation.

"Police said they were going 80 to 85 miles an hour," Commissioner Richard T. Yates said yesterday during a discussion of the Monroe Avenue problem.

He agreed that traffic-slowing devices were needed but didn't think the speed bump and three-way stop sign were the solutions.

Davis, who searched the Internet to see where speed bumps are used around the nation, found that Berkeley, Calif., has put 126 speed bumps in a 99-block area. He also found that a speed

bump slows emergency vehicles by an average of 10 seconds per bump.

That is too slow for Yates. Add 10 seconds for each proposed speed bump and 20 seconds for the proposed stop sign, and a person suffering a heart attack and needing immediate attention would be in trouble, Yates said.

Rather than use speed bumps, J. Michael Evans, county public works director, proposed building an 80-foot-long, 3-foot-wide median to slow traffic as it approaches the dangerous curve.

"We have to separate that horrible accident that occurred from all the other problems" on Monroe Avenue, Evans said. "Whether anything would have prevented that, I don't know."

Speeding on Monroe Avenue "occurs at times other than normal business hours," Evans said. "Much of the speeding is done by young people and the accidents involved young or drunk drivers."

In general, his department has not found three-way stop signs to be helpful, because they are often ignored, he said. When obeyed, they stop traffic on a main street to allow traffic to enter it from a side street. Usually, it is side-street traffic that is stopped when entering a main street, he said.

Evans said that neighboring Howard County planned to use speed bumps but found them ineffective, and has put plans "on the back burner."

Pub Date: 7/31/98

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