Pedestrian sign could confuse drivers


February 20, 2007

THE PROBLEM -- A sign hanging from a construction fence at the site of the new Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel seems to encourage motorists driving south on Eutaw Street to take a right onto Pratt Street. That would put them going the wrong way on the one-way street.

THE BACKSTORY -- Eutaw Street is "open for business" as contractors say on a sign, an attempt to remind people that they can still shop even if a large swath of property is closed north of Camden Yards to make way for the city's new publicly financed hotel.

But one sign could lead to trouble. Motorists going south on Eutaw cannot go farther than Pratt, which is one-way headed east. That means drivers can turn only left without risking a head-on collision. The source of confusion is a sign hanging from the orange barrier fence that has an arrow pointing to the right - to the west - telling people the location of Paca Street.

It's not a traffic sign. There is one of those that says turning right is forbidden, but it's hard to see because it's high above the street next to the overhead traffic signal. Drivers unfamiliar with city streets could become confused, or worse, miss the overhead sign, see the arrow and turn against traffic.

Irene Van Sant, project analysis director for the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's economic development arm, said the sign pointing to Paca Street and others are for pedestrians to help them navigate around the construction site. She said their placement was coordinated with the city's Transportation Department.

Van Sant, who serves as project manager for the hotel, said the sign has been hanging on the fence since Feb. 8, 2006, with no previous complaints.

"I don't think anyone has turned right onto Pratt Street," Van Sant said. "We'll take the sign down if it's that confusing to our readers." She added that another option would be to make it clear that the sign is for pedestrians, not motorists.

WHO CAN FIX THIS -- Irene Van Sant, project manager for the hotel, 410-837-9303.


Patrons of the Brooklyn Curtis Bay post office in Anne Arundel County now have more room to park. A fence that blocked off a significant portion of the lot on a street off Ritchie Highway - done so trucks would have room to maneuver - has been removed, adding 11 spaces to the existing six.

Motorists can now enter the parking area on 16th Avenue and exit on Morgan Road, rather than having to back out of the lot. "As a result of your article, the parking lot was expanded and is much easier to enter and exit," Linthicum resident Lynda Davis said in an e-mail. "Way to go Watchdog!"

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