Stop sign's placement causes concern

WATCHDOG

January 09, 2007

THE PROBLEM -- Richard Hillman, a former Annapolis mayor, contacted Watchdog about the placement of a stop sign on School Street near State Circle in Annapolis. He claimed the sign is 50 feet shy of the intersection, before a crosswalk that traverses School Street at an angle.

Hillman said drivers must stop twice - at the stop sign and again when they reach the intersection - in order to successfully navigate the road. He said drivers frequently ignore the stop sign because they mistakenly think it controls only the crosswalk.

THE BACKSTORY -- Watchdog visited the site and determined (using a tape measure) that the stop sign is actually 35 feet from the intersection. Watchdog also witnessed several cars whose drivers failed to stop.

Ray Weaver, a spokesman for the city of Annapolis, said the stop sign was installed in 1997 and the crosswalk's positioning was deemed "the optimum place to have a crosswalk."

"The logic behind it seems to be to make sure people stop for people in the crosswalk," Weaver said. He added that the intersection can be "a little tricky," but "stop at the stop sign and as you naturally would at any intersection, look to your left and make sure you're clear and move on."

Weaver said that Annapolis police tell him that there have not been any major accidents there.

According to the Maryland Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Section 2B.06, STOP Sign Placement Standard, signs "shall be placed within 50 feet of the intersecting roadway." But the rules also state: "The STOP sign shall be located as close as practical to the intersection it regulates."

The question is whether the sign's placement jeopardizes the safety of pedestrians and motorists.

WHO CAN FIX THIS -- John E.C. Patmore, acting director of the Annapolis Public Works Administration, 410-263-7949.

Nicole Fuller

UPDATE -- Nine lampposts surrounding the Charles Center Metro stop, near the Fayette Street entrance, remain dark a week after the problem was first reported in Watchdog on Jan. 2. At the time, Baltimore's Department of Transportation said the lights belonged to the city. But officials have now concluded that the lights are the responsibility of the Maryland Transit Administration.

MTA spokeswoman Sharon DeHaney said temporary lights have been installed for the safety of passengers, and that additional lights will be added. She said some lights controlled by the city also are out and that the state is helping to get them fixed.

The outage is due to an electrical failure caused by a water leak that seeped into a junction box. "That is why it has taken this time to get it repaired," DeHaney said yesterday, adding that work is expected to be completed within a few days.

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