Construction in Catonsville neighborhood aims to slow speeders

Speeders on Pleasant Valley Drive in the Woodbridge Valley community off North Rolling Road will find the route not so smooth by the end of January.

Baltimore County is beginning a weeklong, $40,000 project in January to add seven speed humps, a raised intersection and pedestrian island to the road, said Keith Link, who manages traffic calming for the county.

The exact start of the project depends on whether temperatures stay above 40 degrees, Link said.

In 2008, the county placed traffic counters on the road for two days to measure the volume and speed of cars traveling down the road, Link said.

The survey showed as many as 166 cars on the road in a 60-minute span traveling at an average speed of 32 mph, seven miles per hour faster than the limit, Link said.

A road with a peak volume of more than 150 cars in an hour qualifies for traffic calming if the average speed exceeds the posted speed limit by seven miles per hour, Link said.

The seven speed humps will start at the 1100 block of the road, Link said, and continue through the 1400 block, where Woodbridge Elementary School is located.

The speed hump at 1409 Pleasant Valley Drive will also have a pedestrian island, Link said.

"I tried to space the devices out about every 550 feet," Link said .

"By the school, there is a crosswalk, and I wanted to incorporate something by the crosswalk. That way, traffic is at its slowest when kids are in the street," he said.

The construction will also include the installation of a raised intersection at the westernmost intersection of Pleasant Valley Drive and Hickory Springs Circle, Link said.

A raised intersection is similar to a speed hump that extends through an intersection.

The construction, Link said, will include the removal of the two stop signs on Pleasant Valley Drive at that intersection.

Kimberly Fields, the assistant principal at the school, estimated that only 10 of the 423 students walked to school each day.

Fields said most were dropped off on the campus.

"We have a drop-off and pickup area inside of the campus of the school, so we don't have an issue with the traffic in the community," Fields said.

For the project to take place, a community resident had to collect the signatures of 75 percent of the residents on the street asking for the improvements.

One resident collected about 60 signatures from the approximately 150 houses in the community, then became too busy to continue.

So Nicole Smoot, who has lived on the 1400 block of the road for the past dozen years, took on the job in May.

Smoot has four of her five children, Alexis, 18, Necho, 15, and twins Noah and Nigel, 7, living with her.

"I've witnessed school buses as well as residents and visitors speed up and down the street," Smoot said, noting a car flipped over in front of her house late one night last January. "I would have never moved on this street had I known the level of traffic."

Through the summer, Smoot spoke with residents and found many in support and others against the use of speed humps.

Just before the start of fall, Smoot submitted the petition with the signatures of 75 percent of the residents, she said.

Smoot speculated that the speeding motorists who make the road "scary" will quickly learn to drive at the speed limit or find another route.

"They're in for a rude awakening when they hit the speed hump for the first time," she said.

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