"No Stopping" signs restrict parking during morning… (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun )
The problem: "No Stopping" signs restrict parking during morning and evening rush hours for a section of one block of St. Paul Street in Mount Vernon.
The back story: This week, Watchdog solves a Mount Vernon mystery, but it turns out the answer was less mysterious than expected.
The west side of St. Paul Street used to have "No Stopping" signs that restricted parking during the morning and evening rush. Most of those signs were eventually removed as part of negotiations with the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association about the location of a new homeless shelter on Fallsway.
But two signs remained posted on the southern half of the 800 block of St. Paul St., blocking off a few spaces between an alley and a bus stop from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Watchdog contacted Baltimore's Department of Transportation to determine whether the signs remained erroneously.
As it turns out, the two signs are part of a plan to keep traffic moving smoothly at the intersection of St. Paul and Madison streets, according to Kathy Chopper, a transportation spokeswoman. The lane restrictions allow southbound drivers turning west on Madison Street to use the parking lane for right turns, hopefully easing congestion, she said.
Members of the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association had also questioned the need for those remaining signs but ultimately accepted the response.
"It seems reasonable, because Madison is a major westbound thoroughfare," said Steve Shen, chairman of the community association's architectural review committee, who participated in the shelter discussions with city officials.
The peak traffic-lane restrictions had been in place for decades, despite opposition from residents with concerns about speeding, he said. According to Shen, removing the parking restrictions "was mainly a traffic-calming measure." He said his house had been struck by vehicles four times in 10 years, and sometimes, vehicles would jump the curb, threatening pedestrians.
Parking for businesses during the day and for residents at night was a secondary concern, Shen said.
Other steps to slow vehicles include solid lines between the parking lanes and the traffic that narrow the driving area, Shen said. The Madison and St. Paul intersection has also been the site of frequent collisions, and traffic engineers agreed to add a two-second delay between the red light and the green light there to protect drivers, he said.
Who can fix this: City residents should call 311 to report problems.
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