Road's name, not its speed limit, is 100 Final 5-mile stretch of Route 100 opens with flurry of tickets

November 25, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Eager for the green flag, motorists yesterday raced onto a newly opened stretch of Route 100 -- its first morning rush hour. Gone were the dreaded Beltway traffic snarls and the stoplights on Route 32.

Yet, as commuters raced east and west -- their dream of unimpeded and quick access between the Pasadena peninsula in Anne Arundel County and U.S. 29 in Howard finally realized -- some were forced to make pit stops.

Within 90 minutes, Howard County police issued speeding tickets to 30 drivers just west of Interstate 95. Police said they were sending a message.

"Obviously, a new road opened yesterday, a nice road," said Capt. Bill McMahon, who usually doesn't write speeding tickets but couldn't resist yesterday. "We're concerned that if we don't do something right away, things will get out of hand. Somebody will get killed."

One of those handed a ticket was Daniel West.

The 25-year-old said taking Route 100 would save time driving from his Severn home to his job in Baltimore County. He was wrong. At 7: 25 a.m., he was sitting roadside, waiting for a police officer to write him a ticket that cited him for driving 79 mph in the 55-mph zone.

West didn't hear his laser detector beeping, he said, because his car stereo was blaring with punk rock.

'Pay double'

"I thought, 'This will be a good shortcut,' " he said. "Not today, but I always do pretty well in court when it comes to tickets. Always pay double with no points."

Others were not so good-natured.

Robert Gerardin was taking Route 100 to see whether it would cut his commute from Arnold to Columbia. Gerardin, who recently moved from Richmond, Va., was also cited.

"They're doing this on the very first day it's open," Gerardin fumed through the open window of his Saab convertible. "I guess this is 'Welcome to Maryland.' I don't know what they're trying to prove."

Monday afternoon, officials opened the last segment of Route 100, the five miles between I-95 and U.S. 29. Many will use the road, hailed as an outer beltway, to get from I-95 to Interstate 70.

Police worry that the wide-open, two- and three-lane highway could become a speedway. And they hope their enforcement this week and next month will alert drivers that Route 100 is a 55-mph zone, not the 65 mph of I-95.

Within hours of the opening ceremony Monday afternoon, Howard County police went fishing, nabbing 31 alleged speeders. That night, officers issued 12 more speeding tickets -- one motorist clocked at 91 mph, police said.

"Traffic was just so heavy and constant," said Pfc. Jerry Price, "and the speeds were phenomenal."

Taking names

About 7 a.m. yesterday, five Howard County police officers parked their cars in the median about a half-mile west of I-95 and began aiming their laser gun at westbound traffic. They took turns with the gun and jotting down names, addresses and speeds in their traffic citation books.

At one point, Cpl. Karen Johnson was flagging down motorists as Pfcs. Don Becraft and Donald Wyant were writing tickets for four drivers stopped on the shoulder.

One of the drivers was Sharon Downey, who was commuting from her home in Crofton to her job in Columbia. Police should have given her a warning, she said, for allegedly driving 72 mph.

'Go my old way'

It's a new road, after all.

"They should give everybody a chance to adjust," said Downey, 44. "I think I'll go my old way to work tomorrow."

Robert Eberhardt was looking forward to the opening of this less-congested and quicker route to work in Columbia. But not yesterday. He got a ticket for allegedly going 72 mph.

"It will be a good shortcut," he said from his black Camaro. "Not today. Today it is an expensive shortcut."

Pub Date: 11/25/98

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