Residents want more guardrails removed

Devices on Butler Road unattractive, they say

May 27, 1999|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

State road crews have removed 200 feet of metal guardrails along Butler Road in Baltimore County's Western Run Valley, but residents accustomed to the open fields and unmarred vistas say it's not enough.

Though state officials thought they had satisfied residents' concerns, neighbors say they want the state to remove most of the 2,000 feet of guardrail that was put up last week in nine sections along a mile stretch of the bucolic country road.

"It's unsightly in a rural district," said Katharine Jenkins, who has lived in the valley 40 years and drives a pony cart across Butler Road to visit her sister. "We expect more from our state."

Residents say the strips of metal that were installed as part of a $908,000 road improvement project between Falls and Mantua Mill roads are unsightly and dangerous. Horseback riders who frequently cross the road might have trouble getting over the rails, placing them at risk of oncoming cars, they say.

"We feel a lot of it needs to come out," said Jack Dillon, director of the Valleys Planning Council, a land preservation group that lobbies to protect the area.

Dillon said he wants to meet with highway officials and encourage them to consider other means of regulating traffic on the road, such as lowering the speed limit. The current speed limit is 50 mph.

"I don't think the point is to eliminate the guardrails on the road, but to eliminate what is unnecessary," Jenkins said.

State Highway Administration officials, who believed they had addressed the concerns of neighbors by agreeing to remove 200 feet of the rails, were back at the site yesterday.

Highway engineers "have looked at at the sections that were installed now and feel like they are there for good purposes," said state highway spokesman Dave Buck.

Highway crews replaced 800 feet of guardrails and installed an additional 2,000 feet along Butler Road last week at a cost of $89,000, Buck said. The guardrails were added in places where engineers believed cars were at risk for turning over if they left the road.

"We have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles of rural state roads. This is not anything different than we would do elsewhere," Buck said of the installation.

While highway officials are willing to discuss specific instances where the guardrails inhibit horseback riders, Buck said "safety will prevail."

The road improvements, which included replacing culverts and resurfacing, began on Butler Road last fall and will continue for a few more weeks as crews lay the final pavement, Buck said.

Pub Date: 5/27/99

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