Intersection may get help Light: The State Highway Administration might save lives by regulating traffic where Merrymans Mill Road and Jarrettsville Pike meet in Baltimore County.

Intrepid Commuter

November 16, 1998

COMMUTERS IN Baltimore County's hinterlands near Loch Raven Reservoir get the jitters when they approach the intersection of Merrymans Mill Road and Jarrettsville Pike.

The road splits as Merrymans meanders toward Cockeysville, and the pike peaks toward the suburban hills of Timonium.

State Highway Administration crews have recorded traffic flow there for years: In 1991, 14,000 vehicles passed the crossroads daily. Today, 15,050 travel there.

To compensate, engineers recently placed a traffic signal there, with flashing lights most of the time to slow drivers. But some want the signal to activate full-time to serve as a traffic regulator.

SHA engineer Randall Scott said last week that his crews would investigate the intersection early next year to see if the signal needs tweaking. With the pike serving as a major thoroughfare for Harford County commuters, it could save lives. Stay tuned.

Charles Village corner to get four new stop signs

Baltimore's Charles Village is a maze of rowhouses and crowded streets. But lately, where Guilford Avenue meets 30th Street, the place resembles a demolition derby.

Residents complain that lack of a four-way stop has prompted five accidents in the past year -- ambulances and all. Just last Saturday, a Lincoln Town Car racing to the traffic light at 29th Street broadsided a Volvo and knocked the Swedish car onto the sidewalk.

"I heard a tremendous bang," neighbor Patricia Owens told your wheelster last week.

"We all ran outside -- there was the whole neighborhood standing there, in pajamas and robes. It makes me enraged. I feel like we've got to wait until someone gets killed."

Owens said Charles Villagers feel as if their neighbors to the north in Guilford get all the perks from city bureaucrats. Guilfordresidents have successfully lobbied City Hall for one-way streets and a concrete, moat-like curb at Charles Street and Charlcote Road to weed out unwanted traffic.

"It's so unfair that some neighborhoods get this treatment," she lamented.

Well, weep no more.

Department of Public Works officials pledged Friday to place four stop signs at 30th and Guilford by month's end, spokesman Kurt L. Kocher said.

"It's a rather new situation," Kocher explained of the spate of accidents there.

Some remember event that put city in the hole

Last week, city bureaucrats quietly marked the anniversary of the great Baltimore sinkhole. To them, Nov. 8 is the day that will live in infamy. For the sake of the rest of us who lead busy lives, let's go to the videotape:

A ruptured gas line exploded at Park Avenue and Franklin Street and produced a spectacular 40-foot column of flame that burned for more than five hours.

About 265 residents were evacuated as commuters were forced into a wacky traffic tango that lasted nearly three weeks.

City taxpayers spent nearly $2 million to repair the 30-foot-deep sinkhole, which tore apart cable, steam, water, gas and electric lines, and left a hole in a huge sewer pipe.

George Balog, Public Works' chief, last week humbly recalled the event in which he personally directed a 20-day triage of a sewer line 30 feet under the pavement.

Balog said he was blessed daily by the prayers of residents in a nearby Roman Catholic nursing home -- and credits divine intervention for some of his big decisions during the crater repair.

The chief said he soon plans to revisit the site with coffee and cakes to thank those residents again for their assistance.

Who said random acts of kindness can't occur in the big city?

Shortcuts

Look for a new traffic signal at southbound Route 32 in Howard County and Interstate 70 to help eliminate poorly lighted conditions there, State Highway Administration officials say. SHA crews have removed the mother of all steel plates, which has rocked drivers for months at York Road and Fairmount Avenue in dTC Towson. Kudos to the city's Department of Public Works, which adjusted the all-too-brief green traffic signal on Woodbourne Avenue at The Alameda in response to commuter angst. Go underground this Friday and nab a coupon for a free Krispy Kreme doughnut between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. at all subway stations around town. The sweet treat will help the Mass Transit Administration celebrate the subway's 15th anniversary. During the evening rush hour, train commuters will be serenaded by the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School Choir. The next day, all Metro rides will be free as the party continues. Nearly 50,000 commuters use the system each day. Look out for lane closures through the spring on Carroll County's westbound Route 140 from Gorsuch Road to Malcolm Drive.

Pub Date: 11/16/98

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