Some numbers to know if you spot road hazards


October 22, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I RECENTLY heard from Van Beall of Ellicott City, who had some concerns about conditions on Triadelphia Road, between Folly Quarter Road and Carroll Mill Road.

One of his concerns was about a tree. "This tree is about 3 feet thick and located only a few feet from the road surface. Unfortunately for many drivers over the last 20 or more years, there is a slight dip in the road just as you approach this tree from Folly Quarter, heading east," he said. "For those who are distracted or impaired, at this moment, the tree is very unforgiving." The most recent accident occurred about Aug. 8, he said.

Mr. Beall said the crash cost a young neighbor his arm, which was crushed and had to be amputated. "The tree is not hard to spot, as it is about a half-mile from the corner of Folly Quarter and Triadelphia," he said. "There is no mistaking the tree, as several inches of thickness of the bark and wood on the western side have been carved out by the many car impacts."

I advised Mr. Beall to contact Bill Malone, chief of the Howard County Department of Public Works' Traffic Division, directly about his concerns. His phone number is 410-313-2430, and JoAnn Maxfield, spokeswoman for the Howard County Department of Public Works, indicated that Howard County residents are encouraged to contact him with county road-related concerns.

Several days later, I heard again from Mr. Beall. "Thank you for your suggestion to call Bill Malone," he said. "I talked to him about the tree that has been involved in so many accidents, and within two days the tree was gone. The tree had been there probably 50 years, but obviously they agreed it was a serious hazard."

Other concerns

What about other road concerns such as dead animals, trees obstructing roads or malfunctioning traffic signals?

Mark Middlebusher of North Laurel asked: "While I have called 911 to report an entire light intersection out, or an obstruction - for example, a board or dead animal - in the road, I'm sure this is not correct. Any recommendations as to how to handle these situations?"

First of all, please, reserve 911 for emergencies only.

But the key to these questions is knowing whether the road is maintained by the state or the county. Numbered highways, such as U.S. 1, Interstate 70 and Route 32, are maintained by the State Highway Administration. Most other roads are maintained by the county, although some roads, especially those in townhouse neighborhoods, are maintained by neighborhood associations (in which case, good luck).

Signal problems

Whom do you call if you see a light bulb out or an otherwise malfunctioning traffic light? That depends on who is responsible for the intersection. According to Maxfield, traffic signals (or other problems) at intersections that involve a state and county road, such as U.S. 40 and Ridge Road, are also SHA responsibility.

In that case, contact SHA's Dayton Maintenance Facility, 410-531-5533.

If the signal is out at an intersection of county roads, the county is responsible. These can be reported to Maxfield, 410-313-3440, or to the Department of Public Works' Traffic Engineering Division, 410-313- 2430.

Road obstructions

Whom should you contact if a road sign is blocked by trees or obstructed in some way? For state-maintained roads: SHA's Dayton Maintenance Facility, 410-531-5533.

For county roads: Bureau of Highways, 410-313-7450.

Downed trees or limbs that touch power lines must be reported to Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.: 410-685-0123.

Dead animals

Whom to call depends on the type of dead animal and where the dead animal is.

Call SHA's Dayton Maintenance Facility, 410-531-5533, for all dead animals along SHA-maintained roads, unless these animals are outside SHA's right of way - basically if the animal is on private property or "15 feet beyond the yellow line" - or along a county road. In that case, if the dead animal is a deer or domestic animal, call Howard County Animal Control, 410-313- 2780, and it will have the animal removed.

If the dead animal is a raccoon or other small, non- domestic animal, double bag the animal and place it in your trash can, to be collected with the garbage. Leaving it unbagged or otherwise visible will mean that it will be left behind on garbage-pickup day.

Homeowners can bury animals on their property, although many neighborhoods have covenants forbidding such burials.

If the animal is "still alive, but injured and cannot move," call Animal Control, which will send someone to euthanize it.

I believe there should be one number for all area road concerns, and let a trained staff member determine who should be called, rather than insisting that residents weave through the what-ifs, ands or buts of who is responsible for what.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at or send faxes to 410-715-2816. Technophobes can mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 300, Columbia 21044.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.