City to install traffic light near Penn Station

The Baltimore Department of Transportation will install a long-sought traffic signal and crosswalk next year on Charles Street near Penn Station to help pedestrians cross the busy northbound street, the city's traffic chief said Tuesday.

Traffic division chief Randall Scott said the new signal at Charles and Oliver streets will remain green to northbound Charles Street traffic until a pedestrian pushes a button indicating a desire to cross. The new signal, which will be installed north of Mount Royal Avenue and south of the entrance ramp to Interstate 83, is expected to be in operation as early as February but no later than May, Scott said. He said the city will also add a pedestrian crosswalk there.

Scott said city officials became aware that many pedestrians were crossing near that ramp because of construction of a new University of Baltimore Law School at Mount Royal and Charles had made crossing there more difficult.

"We don't want to wait for a tragedy to occur, given the need for pedestrian safety," he said.

The location of the planned signal is a frequent crossing point for many MARC train commuters heading to and from the station. There is a crosswalk north of the I-83 interchange, but pedestrians heading south from there must then cross the entrance ramp.

The crossing conditions have long been a source of concern for UB officials, local residents, commuters and some City Council members. According to deputy city transportation director Jamie Kendrick, the university will contribute roughly $40,000 toward the approximately $120,000 cost of the project. Meanwhile, he said, the city will also put in a temporary sidewalk on the east side of Charles, adjoining the construction site north of Mount Royal.