Only about 30 north Baltimoreans turned out for the Baltimore City Department of Transportation's April 12 meeting at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School to review plans to resurface Roland Avenue, among other improvements.
But the small turnout did not reflect the ambition of the project. Originally a $2.1 million road repaving project, it has grown larger after the city's approval last year of the Greater Roland Park Master Plan. It is now a $3.5 million project and accomplishes much more than repaving Roland Avenue from Cold Spring Lane to Northern Parkway.
It is also intended to reduce speed and traffic on Northern Parkway and Roland Avenue, and to enhance their appearance.
Gilman and Bryn Mawr schools are contributing a combined $700,000 for improvements to reduce speed and traffic jams on Roland Avenue and Northern Parkway. Also planned is an improved bus lane in front of Roland Park Elementary/Middle.
For once, there has been a big effort by the city and adjacent communities to coordinate improvements. I vividly remember the last time a stretch of Roland Avenue was repaved. No sooner had the blacktop dried than phone and cable companies drilled into the surface to lay lines. Now, riding Roland Avenue feels like the Oregon Trail. Bumpity. Bumpity. Bumpity.
Unfortunately, not much improvement will begin until next spring. Originally, the start was scheduled for fall 2012. So much Roland Avenue traffic comes from the schools that summer may be a better time for the bulk of the work, especially after recent construction tie-ups on Falls Road and now the JFX.
Not only will streets be smoother, they will hopefully also be safer. Along Roland Avenue, strategically placed bump-outs will slow traffic. New pedestrian crosswalks will have the slightest tilt at their edges. For motorists, the crosswalks may function as a slight rumble strip.
On the plans as presented at the meeting, I did not see a bump-out at an intersection where speed is a huge issue. Southbound Roland at Upland is a raceway. I understand that one cannot go south of that intersection, because fire trucks could not turn right. Could one go where the bus stop is by moving the stop farther north a bit? Having a bump-out on the northbound side will not slow southbound drag racing.
It was good to see that a bump-out is planned near the curve at southbound Roland near Beechdale. Hopefully, speeders will slow down after it is built and not wind up on the median, as has happened before.
New street trees planned include hardy, shade trees in keeping with the neighborhood. They include several maple varieties with brilliant fall color, Zelkovas, oaks and disease-resistant elms. Many elms once graced the neighborhood, so their return, in disease-resistant form, will be welcomed.
So will attractive benches, light fixtures and trash receptacles that are planned. I've long had "lamp-envy" when driving through Guilford and Homeland, and along West 36th Street, The Avenue, in Hampden.
I hope the ugly guardrail in the center of Cold Spring Lane, from Roland to Falls, will be removed. It was an add-on about 20 years ago, and it seems unnecessary, particularly when one does not exist on steep Northern Parkway.
Hopefully, speed cameras will go in on Wyndhurst near Stony Run, on Cold Spring Lane near Linkwood Park, and at Roland Springs. A child was once struck while crossing Cold Spring Lane. Speed cameras would slow things down and generate money for the city.
With several advance articles and e-blasts about the April 12 meeting, I was surprised by the low turnout. Spring is super busy, so for those still unfamiliar with the plans, it might be worth a look on the Roland Park website, http://www.rolandpark.org/foundation/documents/RPN_winter11.pdf.
Good things are happening.