Deer-dodging in Towson Safety: State officials, expecting an increase in four-footed highway hazards, have installed roadside reflectors to repel deer.

The Intrepid Commuter

October 12, 1998

WHAT AN eye-opener to see a confused deer trying to navigate the Towson roundabout during lunch hour last week.

The wayward animal, an eight-point, 180-pound buck, darted around Towson for an hour, drawing crowds and police as it ran into buildings, hunkered down in parking garages and crashed through a window at the old courthouse.

With this year's deer population expected to be 300,000 -- the largest in the state since Colonial times -- Maryland Department of Natural Resources and State Highway Administration officials and even commuters are bracing for a precarious autumn.

To protect drivers, SHA officials on Friday installed triangular reflectors to repel deer along 1 1/2 miles of Falls Road south of Padonia Road to Seminary Avenue.

The reflectors, invented by Austrian crystal engineers and made by an Illinois company, glow red when illuminated by a headlight. Such light is capable of stopping deer at the roadside until cars safely pass.

Last year, DNR officials say, 13,052 animal-related accidents were reported in Maryland, with high numbers reported in Baltimore, Frederick and Montgomery counties.

It's a national problem, too. Collisions with animals represent more than 4 percent of all crashes in the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's fatal accident reporting system has concluded. The AAA and the Insurance Information Institute estimate at least 500,000 deer-vehicle collisions take place every year, with claims averaging $2,000.

Marvin Tenberg, a board member of Falls Road Community Association, persuaded state officials to install the roadside reflectors along Falls Road.

Tenberg, a retired Westinghouse engineer, has crusaded for the reflectors for years as a way to promote road safety from dusk to dawn, when most deer-vehicle accidents occur.

Similar reflectors are installed on Route 24 in Harford County and along a rural stretch of Worthington Avenue near Glyndon in Baltimore County. They cost about $20 each, but with maintenance, Tenberg estimates a cost of $8,000 per mile.

Deer reflectors have been used elsewhere in the United States and in Europe. Over 20 years, they have reduced accidents by up to 80 percent, researchers say.

The $20,000 Falls Road experiment, near Tenberg's home in Cockeysville, will be monitored by the Highway Administration and the community group.

Those results will be in next year. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for leaping Bambis.

Rumble strips installed at Howard Co. intersection

Howard County police are hoping a rather rude noise will alert motorists to impending danger at Pindell School and Guilford roads, scene of two recent fatal car crashes.

Days after a Sept. 10 traffic fatality, engineers installed three rumble strips that make tires emit a "thud-thud-thud-thud" noise as vehicles approach an oversized stop sign.

County traffic engineer George Frangos said the approach will be monitored for 90 days to see if it improves the woeful intersection -- where both fatals were caused by stop-sign runners.

Bay Bridge lane closings planned for painting

Beware of lane closings on the Bay Bridge this week from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and from 9 a.m. to 3: 30 p.m..

Workers, brave souls that they are, will be painting the spans. State officials also report that closings, in both the eastbound and westbound lanes, will occur for pothole patch work.

Shortcuts

All points bulletin: SHA officials will open Route 100 in mid-November from U.S. 29 to Interstate 95. Construction work on the extension of four-lane Route 100 has taken quite some time -- much to the dismay of thousands of wheelsters who can't wait to sail from Ellicott City toward Anne Arundel County and Baltimore-Washington International Airport Mark your calendar: The Towson roundabout will be dedicated at 11 a.m. Friday with a ribbon-cutting certain to draw mucho politicians in this election year The American Public Transit Association reported last week that use of the nation's transit systems has increased 4.1 percent this year over last year's figures. Commuter rail ridership grew by 4.6 percent, the nonprofit association reported.

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: 10/12/98

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