Help on way for intersection in Clarksville

TRAFFIC TALK

October 29, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THERE ARE changes in the future for a troublesome intersection in western Howard County.

Tom Johnson of Clarksville contacted me recently about the problem connection.

"There is an extremely dangerous situation where Brighton Dam Road merges into Ten Oaks Road in Clarksville," Johnson said. "Traffic heading east on Brighton Dam routinely ignores the yield sign, and often speeds up to get past the yield sign and onto Ten Oaks, frequently causing near (and probably numerous actual) collisions with traffic already on the roadway.

"Meanwhile, traffic heading west on Ten Oaks and turning onto Brighton Dam often pulls out in front of eastbound Ten Oaks Road traffic, causing a similar dangerous situation. I have heard for several years that Howard County or the state is planning to do something about the situation, but nothing has happened. Can you find out what, if anything, is going on? Even a stop sign in place of the yield sign on Brighton Dam might at least slow the traffic down."

I forwarded Mr. Thompson's concerns to Bill Malone, chief of the Traffic Division, Howard County Department of Public Works, who said improvements to the intersection are on the way. The situation "is currently being worked on in the county Bureau of Engineering," Malone said.

Tom Auyeung is manager of a county project that aims to increase the intersection's capacity and safety.

A left-turn bypass lane will be constructed as soon as the county acquires the right of way and easements, according to Auyeung. The good news is that this process has started. "If the property owners cooperate, then [acquiring the right of way and easements] can take just a couple months," Auyeung said.

The bad news? "Sometimes it can take a year or more," he said.

He warned that motorists should not to expect anything this year.

"Hopefully, we can complete it sometime next year," he said. "Once we get the [right of way and easements], the project will only take about 30 days."

The county will continue to monitor the intersection, even after the left-turn bypass lane is in place, Auyeung said.

"We know it's a bad intersection and that this may not completely solve the problem. There may have to be a `Phase 2'," he said.

Halloween safety tips

The sniper attacks threw the region into anxiety about Halloween and kids' safety. Thankfully, we have stepped away from that danger, but Halloween can be a scary time under normal circumstances, and not because of all the witch, ghost and skeleton decorations that adorn houses.

Halloween poses safety risks to your little ghosts and hobgoblins. Why? Halloween activities often occur after dark. Also, children trick-or-treating frequently cross streets at midblock rather than at corners or crosswalks, putting themselves at increased risk.

Many parents overestimate children's street-crossing skills. The pedestrian skills of children are limited by several factors related to their size and stage of development. For example, young children may lack the physical ability to cross a street quickly, and their size limits their visibility to drivers.

Children frequently choose the shortest rather than the safest route across streets, often darting out between parked cars.

In addition, young children do not evaluate potential traffic threats effectively, cannot anticipate driver behavior and overall, process sensory information more slowly than adults.

From the American Academy of Pediatrics come these tips to keep your trick-or-treaters safe. When walking in neighborhoods, children should:

Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks and avoid crossing yards.

Cross streets at a corner, use crosswalks (where they exist) and do not cross between parked cars.

Stop at corners and stay together in a group before crossing.

Wear clothing that is bright and reflective.

Consider using face paint instead of masks. (Masks can obstruct a child's vision.) Avoid wearing hats that slide over eyes.

Avoid wearing long, baggy or loose costumes or oversized shoes (to prevent tripping).

Look left, right and left again before crossing the street.

Be accompanied by an adult. Children younger than age 10 should be closely supervised; all children younger than age 12 should have an adult nearby.

Motorists can do their share to ensure the safety of pedestrian trick-or-treaters by doing the following:

Drive slowly.

Turn headlights on well before sunset.

Watch for children in the street and on medians.

Be on the lookout for children darting between parked cars.

Exit driveways and alleyways carefully.

Have children get out of cars on the curbside, not on the traffic side.

Information on Halloween safety tips: the Web site of the American Academy of Pediatrics, www.aap.org.

Next week: Rage on our roads.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net 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.

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