Different directions, different speed limits


October 14, 2003|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HOW ALERT some of you are sometimes astounds me, especially when you notice something I probably wouldn't. Charlie Jennings has observed some illogic with speed limits around Howard County, and he e-mailed about it.

"I am fascinated by the process that determines speed limits. It is not the level of the speed limit that bothers me. I will drive at the posted limit, despite the attitude of drivers queued up behind me - I suggest that they vent their frustrations on the people who put the signs up, not at me. My fascination lies with the logic that is sometimes applied to the process. I assume that there are guidelines for the responsible bureaucrats to follow. I'm just not sure that the guidelines are applied consistently," he wrote.

"The most illogical examples are stretches of road that have one limit going one way and a different one headed back. [One] example in Howard County is on Browns Bridge Road, on the stretch between the Montgomery County line (the bridge) and Lime Kiln Road - 30 mph leaving Howard County, 35 mph entering. Maybe it is just that a sign is missing. Another case will be found in Columbia's Town Center, on Little Patuxent [Parkway] between Broken Land Parkway and the South Entrance Road - 35 mph on the mall side of the road, 40 mph on the Merriweather Post Pavilion side, going towards the library."

I sent your e-mail regarding the different speed limit signs on some roads in Howard County to Mark Deluca, chief of the Traffic Division in our Bureau of Highways. He said that on the section of Browns Bridge Road between Route 216 and the Montgomery County line, the Howard County speed limit is 30 mph.

"However, once you travel into Montgomery County, the speed limit changes to 35 mph. Similarly, in the eastbound direction, traveling from the Montgomery County line to Route 216, the speed limit is 35 mph in Montgomery County and changes to 30 mph in Howard. We should have at least two posted speed limit signs in this direction: one between the County line and Lime Kiln Road and one between Lime Kiln Road and Route 216," he said. "As a result of the reader's inquiry, we realized the sign between the County line and Lime Kiln Road is missing. A new sign will be installed shortly."

He noted that a similar situation exists on Little Patuxent Parkway. "Between Columbia Road and Broken Land Parkway, the posted speed limit is 35 mph. From Broken Land Parkway to the Hospital the speed limit is 40 mph," he said. "The reader is correct in noting that the section of road in front of Merriweather Post Pavilion traveling eastbound (or from Broken Land to South Entrance) appears to be missing a sign. We have issued a work order and a sign will be installed shortly."

Deluca encourages you to let the county know when signs don't make sense. "Sometimes signs are vandalized or knocked down during accidents and go unnoticed. With literally thousands of signs to maintain in the County, we appreciate the reader's observations."

A few questions

Mark Middlebusher e-mailed last week about this nifty addition to traffic intersections. "One of the unique things we saw in China at several of the traffic intersections was a digital `countdown timer.' It showed how many seconds drivers had to wait until the intersection changed (from green to red, red to green, etc.). It was cool! I heard from several in our [tour] group that they already have these at some cities in Colorado. Maybe they could install a couple here?"

Brian McAllister asked some (probably unanswerable) of his own questions recently. "Who decided that it is a good idea for pickup trucks to be driven with the tailgates down? It compromises the bumper system, leaves drivers behind them with a foot less stopping distance and sometimes blocks [view] of the brake lights," he said.

He also wondered why "drivers in the far left of multiple turn lanes really want to be in the right-hand lane once they make the turn?"

I've wondered about that myself.

School buses doing well?

Hey, all you parents out there: Does your student have concerns about his or her safety on the public school bus because of driving habits or student misconduct? Are you pleased with the location of bus stops in your neighborhood? Are there too many or too few students on your child's bus?

The PTA Council is asking parents to provide comments on public school transportation by tomorrow, folks, so contact the council quickly! You can send e-mail to ptachc@erols.com. The council will forward all comments to Glenn Johnson, head of the Howard County school system's Transportation Department, during National Bus Safety Week (Oct. 17-23).

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net, send faxes to 410-715-2816 or mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 30 Corporate Center, Suite 820, 10440 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, 21044. Please include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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