Devices to slow traffic urged

Residents of Savage say limit exceeded on road near schools

April 22, 1999|By Jamal E. Watson | Jamal E. Watson,SUN STAFF

Alarmed by an increase in speeding throughout their neighborhood, some residents of Savage have asked Howard County authorities to install traffic-calming devices.

Last week, several dozen residents met with a Department of Public Works official to solicit assistance in developing a funding proposal to present to the Howard County Council. They say motorists have been speeding on two streets in particular: Baltimore Avenue and Savage Guilford Road, where Bollman Bridge Elementary School, Patuxent Valley Middle School and Bethel Christian Academy are located.

The speed limit for the roads is 25 mph, but residents say that motorists usually drive 60 to 70 mph.

"With three schools on Savage Guilford Road, I'm surprised that there have been no attempts to try to slow down the traffic," said Michelle Allen, who has been spearheading the effort. "Children are a little too trusting. They think that everyone is going to slow down and stop for them when they cross the street. I am concerned."

Allen brought the community's concern to the attention of Councilman Guy J. Guzzone, a Democrat who represents the area. Guzzone put her in touch with Public Works officials, who vowed to address the concerns in a timely manner.

"Public Works has bent over backwards to give us all the information we needed," said Allen. "They were efficient and they helped us to see what our potential options for traffic calming might be."

At a recent Savage Community Association meeting, William F. Malone, division chief for the traffic engineering division of Public Works, said there are several traffic-calming devices that could be installed on Savage Guilford Road and Baltimore Avenue.

Weighing options

"We can work extremely quickly to develop a plan that we would feel comfortable taking to the community," Malone said. Some of the options include: roadway striping, traffic circles, rumble strips and raising the intersection.

Malone told residents that before a plan is submitted to the county, 60 percent of residents along the roads and on adjoining streets must vote for the changes through a ballot. Ballots not returned will count as "no" votes.

Allen said she is certain that the community will support some form of traffic calming. "We anticipate very little opposition to something being done on Savage Guilford," she said, noting that many in the community have been complaining about automobiles speeding on Baltimore Avenue as well. "People speed up and down our streets at 60 to 70 miles per hour. Our roads are treated like Route 1. We'll be happy if the speed drops down to 40 even though people should really only be driving at 25 miles."

Charla Long, a resident of Savage, says she has observed neighbors driving too fast.

"It's not just outsiders speeding on the road. The majority of people causing the problems are community residents who live here in Savage," she said.

Public Works officials agree that the two Savage roads meet the criteria for traffic-calming devices, but even with the community's support it is uncertain whether county money would be available. Guzzone, who attended last week's meeting, said he would lobby for funding.

`A high priority'

"This is a function between the administration and the community," Guzzone told residents. "I will put a high priority on this."

The community's demand for traffic-calming devices comes on the heels of an aggressive county police campaign to ticket motorists who speed in school zones. Police plan to implement double fines by the end of the month for drivers who speed near elementary schools. Bollman Bridge Elementary on Savage Guilford is one of the sites that police have targeted.

Pub Date: 4/22/99

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