Signal

Construction renders a traffic signal at the Owings Mills metro garage obsolete. The light causes problems for drivers trying to enter and exit the garage. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun / October 19, 2011)

The problem: A traffic signal near the Owings Mills Metro stopped cars at a road closed for construction.

The back story: Through many years of serving the greater Baltimore region, Watchdog has developed a strong appreciation for properly calibrated — and located — traffic control devices.

That's why Susan T. Brooks' email about a traffic signal that was stopping vehicles at a road closed for construction caught Watchdog's attention.

Brooks regularly takes the subway to her job at the VA Medical Center in downtown Baltimore. The Owings Mills resident used to drive down Painters Mill Road and turn left at a T intersection onto a road that leads into a parking garage for the metro.

More than two weeks ago, that road was closed for construction, and drivers were directed to an entrance closer to the Interstate 795 bridge.

"Now we have a traffic light that goes nowhere," Brooks said.

The traffic signal that regulated vehicles at the T intersection continued to function, even though drivers can no longer turn into the garage entrance there.

The light was not only stopping traffic unnecessarily, but it caused cars to block the current entrance and exit of the garage, Brooks said.

On Tuesday, "we were backed up to the second level of the parking garage, trying to get out," she said.

Brooks had contacted Watchdog in hopes that the signal could be moved or a new one installed so it would control traffic where drivers now exit or enter the garage. "It was easier and safer [to enter the garage] where the light was," she said.

Now to enter the garage, drivers have to wait in a spot with poor visibility, and the roadway markings are worn, making them difficult to see in rainy or snowy weather.

"If it rains or snows, you will never get out of that garage," she said.

Watchdog contacted Baltimore County's Department of Public Works, which is responsible for the county road.

An inspector went to the site and confirmed that the side road the signal serves was closed, said DPW spokesman David Fidler. The light was to be set to flash operation starting Wednesday. Afterward, it was to be turned off and removed, Fidler said.

Who can fix this: Darrell Wiles, Chief of Traffic Engineering, Baltimore County Department of Public Works, 410-887-3554.

Need help?

Is there something in your neighborhood that's not getting fixed? Tell us where the problem is and how long it's been there by emailing watchdog@baltsun.com or calling 410-332-6735.

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