Residents who live on Sunshine Way in Westminster have expressed frustration over an impasse with the county regarding a solution to a speeding problem and claim their attempts at communication are being ignored.
The road is described by one resident as a wide “country road” that allows cars to cut through traffic with many trying to bypass Md. 140 on their way to Md. 97 north.
Michael Weiner, a resident who lives on Sunshine Way, said he has dodged dozens of speeding cars while trying to cross the street and believes that an intersection where he says cars have a blind spot is particularly hazardous.
A video shared with the Times by Weiner from his Ring camera shows a car narrowly missing several children biking across an intersection.
“Had that car been speeding like so many do, these kids on Garden Way coming up to Sunshine Way would have been badly injured or worse,” Weiner told the Times.
A study done by the county’s Department of Public Works, which conducts the county’s traffic calming program, found that the street did indeed have a speeding problem and was eligible for traffic calming intervention.
Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, said he notified public works about the street’s traffic after speaking with residents while canvassing prior to an election.
“I heard from several residents at that time, not a lot, but several that they were concerned with the way cars are going up and down the Sunshine Way. So after that, I went and I talked to our traffic people and I talked to the [Carroll County Sheriff’s Office],” Frazier said. “We’ve had meetings with them and and we actually sent a letter out in 2018 again about traffic calming.”
Meetings with residents essentially resulted in a stalemate when the county and the residents could not agree on a solution.
At first, the county sent out the letter stating they would be putting lines down on the road, which some residents say would make the situation worse.
“We didn’t want the yellow lines in our road,” said Weiner. “It’s going to give the impression that it’s a faster road than what it already is.”
Said Chad Costello, another resident: “That wasn’t something we had requested. That wasn’t something that we had been alerted about. That was the first indication from the county that they were going to be coming out and doing that.”
The letter was followed by an inspection from the public works department and meetings with residents.
A letter from Frazier to the residents states that professional traffic engineers inspected the area and recommended bumps and islands, which, according to the letter, the majority of the community did not agree to. For traffic calming methods to be implemented, two-thirds of residents have to agree to the modifications — the county states that 21% of residents wanted to move forward with the recommended suggestions and another 27% returned the survey suggesting stop signs, which the county says is not a recommended industry standard and that the current trend in Maryland is to “remove stop signs, previously thought as a solution for speed control, and replace them with other measures.”
The letter then stated that residents could reapply for traffic calming intervention in two years, a timeline that some residents feel is ignoring the risk they face.
“For reasons unknown to me and my neighbors, the commissioners have chosen to cease any/all contact and proceed with forwarding their own agenda. I do not understand how they can stand by and make the decision not to address an issue which they had previously readily identified.” Raymond Richards, a resident of the street, wrote in an email to the Times.
Weiner and Costello both said they, and many other residents, are in favor of stop signs.
“We’re all adults here who have been driving for decades. We live on the street. We understand the flow of traffic on our street and from Day One, we wanted stop signs, but the county has refused to give a stop sign. Instead, they want this very expensive, elaborate plan,” Weiner said.
“We don’t want to go to an area and do something that the residents there don’t want to happen,” Frazier told the Times. “We’re trying to follow the state and national policies that are set by National Safety Transportation Institute, so forth. We’re not going against the advice of the people that are the experts in their field.”
Since residents could not agree to to a solution recommended by the county, the Department of Public Works said residents can reapply for traffic calming intervention in two years. In the interim, residents continue to worry for the safety of their children.
“We are seeing cars traveling at high rates of speed all the time,” said resident Rob Carberry. “And it has become extremely dangerous for our children to do something as simple as walk to the bus stops.”