Howard drivers step on the gas Speeding: Traffic police have heard all sorts of excuses for fast driving -- some of them comical -- and receive complaints daily from concerned residents.

The Intrepid Commuter

September 21, 1998

MOST TRAFFIC COPS can tell you -- with little to no uncertainty -- they've heard it all.

Consider the lulu told to Howard County Police Department's radar enforcement coordinator Richard Rutledge recently.

Pulled over for driving in excess of 100 mph on Route 32, the driver floated this alibi in hope of escaping a fine: "He said he had just washed his car and was trying to dry it," Rutledge recalled of the comical excuse.

Not all stories, though, are capable of making the precinct bulletin board. Weird combinations of gridlock, road rage, sprawl and cramped commercial corridors in Howard have forced many to give it gas just to get from point to point, increasing the potential for accidents.

Rutledge said his traffic control department continues to receive at least a complaint a day from residents concerned about speeding.

So far this year, officers have issued 203 citations and 86 warnings near the intersection of Governor Warfield Parkway and Wilde Lake Terrace in Columbia. Rutledge predicts the final count will surpass last year's mark of 309 citations and 99 warnings.

Baltimore County looks over humps

Last week, Intrepid updated the efforts of certain Baltimore neighborhoods to add speed humps to calm traffic -- facts enhanced by fellow columnist Dan Rodricks, who detailed how humps are being sought in Carroll County's rural utopia-turned- hellish suburb, Eldersburg.

But what about Baltimore County?

There, some complain of cut-through speeders -- like along Regester Avenue in Anneslie.

Could the hump soon be joining the roundabout?

"Not at this time," said county traffic czar Darrell Wiles. "In Baltimore County, we think other methods are effective. At this point in time, we look at the problem: If there's a cut-through, the first solution is to determine why people find this short cut convenient. Then we try to solve the problem on the primary system."

"Everyone is hoping to find a silver bullet to stop speeding, but it is really a behavioral problem," he said.

Intrepid One wants picky drivers' stories

Is your car part of your wardrobe? Do you, for instance, feel the need to drive nothing less than a Saab or Ford Explorer through the carpool lane in order to make a status statement -- and cringe at others who slog along in rusty, dented wheels? Intrepid seeks stories of those whose vehicles help define their very being. Tell all to the hot line at 410-783-1800, Ext. 4305 (from Anne Arundel County, dial 410-268-7736), or via e-mail to Intrepialtsun.com. And please leave your name -- stories may be published.

Russell St. repaving under consideration

With millions of dollars in stadiums now flanking Baltimore's gateway, you'd think city officials could at least oblige fans and city commuters with a new surface on Russell Street.

That certainly would be a goodwill gesture to help christen the $223 million Ravens stadium and serve as a beacon of hope to all Orioles fans next spring on Opening Day, when they return to their $106.5 million roost.

Now, drivers who gawk at the new landmark find themselves rocking and rolling as their wheels hit Camden Yards' signature potholes and manhole covers -- things so dreadful they are capable of giving the city's rep a black eye.

Kurt L. Kocher, the city Department of Public Works spokesman, told Intrepid last week: "We are looking at the possibility of" repaving Russell.

Until such a decision is made, though, hold on to your pom-poms.

Keep in touch

You can mail, send by fax or call in questions or comments for the Intrepid Commuter. Here's how:

Mail letters -- The Sun, 109 Allegheny Ave., Towson 21204.

E-mail: Intrepialtsun.com.

Call Sundial, The Baltimore Sun's telephone information service. 410-783-1800, enter Ext. 4305. From Anne Arundel County, dial 410-268-7736.

Pub Date: 9/21/98

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