The faded double yellow lines peeking through the middle of East Drive in downtown Arbutus will soon become a thing of the past as Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has set aside funds to repave and add new lines to the town's main street byfall.
Bryan Sheppard, a special assistant to Kamenetz, said the $90,000 project will improve East Drive from its intersection with Sulphur Spring Road to Linden Avenue.
"They're not going to be too far from what's out there," Sheppard said of the lanes once the project is completed. "The problem is just that there's three sets of lines out there."
The project should take about two weeks if weather permits and will start once the construction to repave and add curbs, gutters and sidewalks to Leeds Avenue is completed, Sheppard said.
"A lot of residents and businesses have complained it's a safety issue," he said.
"They're going to try to make it consistent and make sure that its safe and as pedestrian friendly as you can get," Sheppard said. "What we're going to try to do is to highlight better where pedestrians cross."
Sheppard said Kamenetz and 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents the area that includes Arbutus, have worked on this project since shortly after their elections in 2010.
Last August, Quirk walked through the downtown area with Capt. John Spiroff, commander of the Wilkens Police Station that includes Arbutus, and business owners and community leaders to discuss issues in the area.
"This is one of the top priorities of that group," Quirk said. "I'm glad to be seeing it moved forward."
Funding for the project will come from the county's $20 million budget set aside for road resurfacing over the next two years, Sheppard said.
The decision to approve the construction project comes a month after Kamenetz took a detour on his way to the Arbutus Improvement Association picnic on June 2 to look at East Drive and saw three sets of markings on the road.
Sheppard explained that the slurry seal, a mixed asphalt product used to fill cracks and add skid resistance to roads, had become worn down, exposing prior lane markings.
For resurfacing projects, Sheppard said, community input meetings are not necessary.
He noted, however, that Quirk arranged a meeting of business owners, area residents and personnel from the traffic engineering division of Baltimore County Department of Public Works.
"I'm excited about it," said Patti Sue Nolan, president of the Arbutus Business and Professional Association. "East Drive is dangerous. Nobody can tell where they're supposed to be.
"Right now, you take your life in your hands when you try to get out of your car," Nolan said.
The owner of Now and Then Music, who declined to be identified, agreed with Nolan.
He said he has seen a number of traffic accidents along the strip and that improvements could result in more business for area shops.
"I hope we get it straight so we can get a little more business back in here," the 13-year owner of the shop said.
Quirk also sees room for improvement in making the area more pedestrian-friendly.
"I'm hoping we can do more to slow down traffic," he said. "I'd like to see more continued to be done to improve the walkability and safety of the area
Robert Stolte, an employee at Mike's Antiques and Collectibles, said East Drive needs more than simply repaving.
Businesses will benefit if the project provides pedestrians a safer route.
"East Drive needs improvement, but I don't know if resurfacing is important," the 20-year Halethorpe resident said. "It's not pedestrian friendly at all. I'm amazed more people haven't gotten hit."
Baltimore County police said there has not been a single report of an accident involving pedestrians or a traffic accident resulting in a death in at least the last three years.