Swift speed limit change on Charles St. seen as trap

Watchdog

Combination of obscured sign, camera 'sure looks like it's a revenue-raising technique'

  • A speed limit sign for 30 mph along Charles Street, near Gittings Avenue, is obscured by a tree branch. A recently installed speed camera nearby has generated concern that the area is a speed trap. The city Department of Transportation is looking into the situation.
A speed limit sign for 30 mph along Charles Street, near Gittings… (Baltimore Sun photo by Jed…)
January 10, 2010|By Liz F. Kay | liz.kay@baltsun.com

The problem: Tree branches conceal a speed limit sign in North Baltimore.

The backstory: Tom Lavin knows the speed limit on Charles Street.

He's lived in different North Baltimore neighborhoods along Charles Street for most of his life, and usually remained within a safe threshold of driving 30 mph on the road.

"I knew the speed limit on Charles Street in the city was 30 miles per hour, but I couldn't tell you exactly where it started," he said.

But about a month ago, he went running and saw city workers installing a 40-mph sign on the west side of Charles Street, just north of Gittings Avenue near the Baltimore County border. He also noted the installation of a speed camera at the intersection of Charles Street and Lake Avenue.

Then, when Lavin was driving south on Charles Street, he noticed yet another speed limit sign just south of Lake Avenue, restricting drivers to 30 mph. The sign, which was about a block south of the 40 mph sign, was partially obscured by a tree branch.

"I was kind of like, 'That's a little odd,' " he said.

Lavin realizes there could be reasonable explanation for the swift change in speed limits, but it looked fishy so close to the speed camera. And the obscuring tree branch adds to the impression of a trap.

His neighbors agreed. "It may be innocent, but it sure looks like it's a revenue-raising technique," Lavin said.

Adrienne Barnes, a spokeswoman for Baltimore's Department of Transportation, said that a traffic associate would look into the situation.

"We're investigating to determine what signs may be needed to alert the motorist that the speed limit will be reduced," Barnes said.

A "Reduced Speed Ahead" sign could be required, or there might be another solution, she said.

Who can fix this: Randall Scott, traffic division chief, Baltimore Department of Transportation. 443-984-2150. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

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