After resident's calls over 32 years, city installs traffic light

Resident chronicles numerous accidents at N.W. Baltimore intersection

  • Raj Sharma, far left, of the Baltimore City transportation department watches as Cynthia Larkins, center, and her aunt, Mary Banks applaud as a traffic light is turned on. Larkins and her family said they have been advocating for decades for a traffic light at the intersection of Wabash and Hillsdale avenues.
Raj Sharma, far left, of the Baltimore City transportation… (B581806831Z.1, Baltimore…)
January 05, 2012|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

Cynthia Larkins expected to be front and center and yelling "Hallelujah!" when city transportation officials turned on a new $100,000 traffic light Thursday at Wabash and Hillsdale avenues, near her home in Northwest Baltimore's West Arlington neighborhood.

"I have only been trying 32 years to get a light at this intersection," said Larkins, 57, a retired federal employee. "And my father tried for years before me. I feel like a kid who was given a candy bar. I am elated for the safety of everybody who drives or walks through here."

She has chronicled fatal accidents, critical injuries, hit-and-runs, even fender-benders, with photos and notes. Too many motorists ignored the stop sign, she said.

"I would hear the screech and then, many times, a knock on the door asking me to call the police or an ambulance," she said.

She called 311 so often that operators asked her to stop and assured her that her message was reaching decision-makers. Early last year, a letter from the city Department of Transportation let her know her campaign had succeeded. Her efforts helped spur installation of the light, as well as pedestrian signs and a crosswalk.

"The community reached out to us about safety and traffic issues," said Kathy Chopper, transportation department spokeswoman. "We conducted traffic studies, and based on those counts, decided to move forward."

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