Traffic engineers give busy intersection a 'D' Brakes: Residents believe the tangle of cars at Greenspring Valley and Falls roads deserves a grade of 'F.'

The Intrepid Commuter

November 23, 1998

HOT OFF THE PRESS: Clipboard-wielding traffic engineers from Baltimore County have rated the notorious crawl at Greenspring Valley and Falls roads and given the mess a "D."

That's one rank below last year's "C," but the bureaucrats again stopped short of concluding that gridlock there -- and the nearby crossroads of Falls and Joppa roads -- constitutes a failed intersection.

Many have argued for years that the location is traffic purgatory at rush hour.

Your wheelster likens it to the extraordinary headache one encounters when leaving a major sporting event, sort of like what would happen to Baltimore's streets if a World Series were to occur at Camden Yards. Yet this type of traffic occurs each day.

The bottleneck routinely produces a sea of brake lights as commuters flood two-lane country roads to cut through the chic valley toward suburbia.

Those who live near the hot spot say the intersections should receive an "F" grade, which would prevent further development.

A recent proposal by the developers of Greenspring Station for an eight-story building with five levels of parking and three stories of office space was voided by county legislation aimed at protecting rural conservation areas.

"We're gratified it's no longer at a 'C' level," said Jack Dillon, director of Valleys Planning Council, a preservation group that hired a traffic engineer to rate the intersections -- and failed them. "It took a couple of years to do that -- hopefully in another year they will realize it's worse than a 'D.' "

Drivers can give thanks for Thanksgiving gas prices

Driving to give thanks this year will be cheaper.

Gas prices average $1.03 per gallon this Thanksgiving -- down 16 cents from pump prices last turkey day, when gas stations gobbled up nearly $1.21 per gallon from our pocketbooks.

Look for the cost break to hold through the December holidays because of an oversupply of crude oil and lower demand, a survey of Maryland gas stations by AAA shows.

Turkey's not the only thing fired up over the holidays

As we prepare to give thanks, will we do so with a cool head?

Last week, Colorado State University psychology Professor Jerry Deffenbacher wrote a quiz on road rage released as holiday travel commences.

Deffenbacher, who has studied anger management and aggressive driving since the 1980s, was hired by a carmaker to design a 14-question, multiple-choice quiz about driving habits and a tip sheet about how to arrive alive.

"Today's societal pressures, increased road congestion and busy schedules have led to significant increases in aggressive driving," he says. "Knowing what triggers anger is paramount to managing it."

The quiz includes questions about driver reaction to situations that include a weaving motorist, a red-light runner and a bicyclist.

If you score high and are "very easily angered," look at the tip sheet that offers such advice as: "Do not inflame the situation," "Make yourself laugh" and "Engage in healthy distraction."

With federal statistics showing road rage responsible for 2.28 million crashes and 27,935 traffic fatalities over the past five years, Deffenbacher's advice -- however elementary -- could be crucial if you're dealing with a driver suffering with anything from indigestion to infuriation.

For more details, log onto the road rage Web site at www.nissan-na.com. To request a laminated road rage tip card, call 800-782-8678.

Shortcuts

Howard County police pledged recently to station unmarked cruisers along U.S. 29 to catch speeders in response to community complaints. Residents claim they have witnessed young drivers racing up and down the road well above the posted 65 mph. In Carroll County, the left lane of westbound Route 140 between Route 97 south and Gorsuch Road will remain closed this week as work continues on the median strip. Pass on the gravy: Baltimore parking meters don't have to be fed Thanksgiving Day.

Pub Date: 11/23/98

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