Bellona curves merit attention beyond signs

The Intrepid Commuter

Experience: After warning of a hazardous curve, a woman is injured there in a head-on collision.

January 04, 1999

IT'S BEEN NEARLY TWO years since your wheelster highlighted the woes of a tres dangerous curve on Bellona Avenue just off North Charles Street where most drivers make the steep descent into the belly of Ruxton.

Here is a two-lane road that holds a pair of sharp curves that make driving a white-knuckle experience. When it rains, that experience takes on religious proportions as vehicles begin to slip and slide everywhere.

In early 1997, Intrepid interviewed Kate Chittenden, a neighbor of this danger zone, who warned the curve is a magnet for accidents -- and State Highway Administration statistics showing 22 reported wrecks there since 1995 back her up.

Recently, though, fate caught up with Kate.

"I was involved in a head-on accident there on Nov. 10," Chittenden said of the wreck that totaled her Toyota and sent her to the hospital.

A recent call to SHA engineers to complain once again about the curve added insult to her injuries, Chittenden said.

While engineer Randall Scott insisted that the problem was eased by installation of warning signs, Chittenden shot back, "You're not hearing me. The signs don't make a hill of beans.

"I went down that hill at 20 miles per hour" and was slammed by another car that was careening out of control, she explained.

She told Intrepid: "I was not pleased with the attitude. I felt I got nowhere and that he was listening to me because he had to."

It seems some sense must have gotten through last week. SHA spokeswoman Valerie Burnette Edgar told Intrepid on Thursday that Scott plans to perform a skid test on Bellona by early spring. After that, engineers will determine whether to take further action to make the winding curve a safer stretch.

Until then, commuters might want to place their views on the curve in writing addressed to Scott, at SHA's District 4 office at 2323 W. Joppa Road, Brooklandville 21204.

State studies delays on I-70 in Howard County

I f you commute through Howard County, you've probably noticed frequent early-morning traffic crawls in the right lane of eastbound Interstate 70 around St. Johns Lane.

The stop-and-go pattern is rooted in traffic headed toward southbound U.S. 29, say State Highway Administration officials. But the headaches stem from time-conscious commuters in search of that elusive shortcut by using the route to scoot toward Route 100, officials theorize.

Traffic migration patterns show that particular route is now being used as an alternative to Routes 32 and 175.

Add it all up, and it comes to one huge mess.

SHA spokeswoman Edgar said traffic engineers would study the patterns at the interchange through the holidays and into the new year. Look for possible relief, depending on the outcome of the investigation.

"When a new road opens, people might try it out, then go back to their old traffic pattern," Edgar said. "We'll have to wait for people to establish their routes."

Homeland gains restrictions on cut-throughs by drivers

I t seems residents of Baltimore's Homeland neighborhood are resolved to reconfiguring certain streets and alleyways in their tony neighborhood to keep out commuters who invade and turn the place into cut-through heaven.

You might recall that last year, the community drew a raft of controversy in an attempt to reroute an estimated 5,000 cars that stream each day through its tree-lined streets by blocking certain streets to all except "local traffic."

Such a move smacked of elitism, just as neighboring Guilford successfully lobbied City Hall to build a stunning moat-like curb at Millbrook Road and St. Paul Street to keep out drivers who simply did not belong.

Now comes word from city bureaucrats that Homelandians are behind some new commuting-related restrictions in their community.

Look for no parking on Homeland Avenue east of Charles Street and no turns allowed off westbound Northern Parkway into two Homeland alleys from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. In addition, there soon will be another pair of stop signs at Purlington Way and St. Dunstans Road, making it a four-way stop, and lowered speed limits between Bellona Avenue and Charles Street along Northern Parkway to help calm traffic.

This month, more changes will be discussed at a meeting between community representatives and city Department of Public Works officials, DPW spokesman Kurt Kocher said.

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