Speed humps

After a four-year hiatus, the county plans to start building speed humps again. (File photo / April 18, 2011)

Speeding is so bad on Furrow Avenue that resident Tom Albert said cars have veered off the road, knocking down mailboxes and clipping hedges, and forcing joggers to jump out of the way.

"Safety is huge; the neighborhood understands that we're at high risk," he said. "People walk in the street. Kids ride their bikes. Parents jog with their kids, pushing strollers down the street."

Albert is head of a committee of Furrow Avenue residents who have been working with the county to get speed humps installed on their 25 mph residential road, north of Old Frederick Road in Ellicott City.

Furrow Avenue is just one of a dozen neighborhoods in the pipeline to get speed humps through the county's residential traffic calming program, which hasn't been funded for the past four years.

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But County Executive Ken Ulman's fiscal 2013 capital budget proposal only includes $50,000 for the program — not nearly enough to fund all the projects.

In 2008, the county put a moratorium on speed humps, as it was waiting to get its speed camera program up and running.

Last year, the County Council passed a bill authorizing the speed camera program and passed a capital budget that allocated $100,000 for the traffic calming program, slated to come from speed camera revenues. But that money never materialized.

"Because the speed camera program was slow to get started, we told them that money was not available," county Budget Administrator Ray Wacks said.

Roads in school zones, where speed cameras can be used, no longer qualify for speed humps, said Diane Schwarzman, the county's Traffic Engineering Division chief.

"That took quite a few roads off the list," she said.

This year, the $50,000 for speed humps, if approved by the council, is being funded from previous years' surplus. In future years, the county is hoping to have revenue from the speed camera program to use for the program.

More money sought

Some council members feel not enough is budgeted this year, given the number of neighborhoods seeking speed humps.

"We just have to work with the county executive to see if we can provide additional funding," Ellicott City Democrat Courtney Watson said. "We have some catching up to do."

Of the 12 communities on the list of neighborhoods in the pipeline for speed humps, seven are in Watson's council District 1.

"Many of our neighborhoods do not have sidewalks," she said. "Many of the neighborhoods have wide streets that make speeding very easy. …There's a lot of straightaways."

That's the case in the Font Hill neighborhood of Ellicott City, where speed humps were installed on most roads about a decade ago. Michael Dennison is leading the neighborhood effort to get two humps put within the one to one-and-a-half mile stretch of Font Hill Drive that is still bare.

"Where I live is a pretty flat spot of Font Hill," Dennison said, noting that speeding is aided by the fact cars approach the hump-less stretch coming down a hill.

Dennison, 26, has lived in Font Hill his entire life and said traffic and speeding have only increased with development over the years.

"What hurts us, too, is we're kind of smack dab in the middle of Old Annapolis Road and Old Frederick Road," he said. "I think people use Font Hill as a cut through."