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City of Laurel responds to safety concerns with new stop signs at 4th Street | Old Town

New, illuminated stop signs were installed along Prince George Street at the intersection with 4th Street after neighbors raised concerns about accidents there.
New, illuminated stop signs were installed along Prince George Street at the intersection with 4th Street after neighbors raised concerns about accidents there. (Mary Sullivan / HANDOUT)

There’s something new and flashy in Old Town, and it’s there to keep you safe.

The city recently installed two new flashing, illuminated stop signs along Prince George Street at 4th Street after advocacy by neighbors who were tired of repeated collisions at the three-way intersection. The city also hopes to install a new stop sign along 4th Street for northbound traffic.

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“There’d been so many accidents over the years,” longtime resident Kathleen Dalphonse said. “We’re all just sick of it happening.”

The final straw for Dalphonse was an accident several weeks ago at the intersection in which a car with several child passengers was struck. She raised concern about the spot in a social media post, and residents throughout the neighborhood agreed.

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To their credit, Laurel Mayor Craig Moe, Laurel Police Chief Russell Hamill, city administrator Bill Goddard, and staff from the Department of Public Works came out to the intersection within days to listen to residents and see for themselves.

“We had a really bad accident that really caused the community concern,” Hamill said. “This is all about the welfare of others. It really shook people up.”

The police department did a review of collisions at the intersection and found two or three reported there in each of the past several years, though some neighbors think the real number is five a year. The three-way intersection had a two-way stop along Prince George Street for eastbound and westbound traffic, but no stop sign along 4th Street for northbound traffic.

Overgrown trees and bushes made for impaired lines of sight. Plus, Hamill observed, Prince George Street is wider than 4th Street and has two-way traffic compared to 4th Street’s one-way traffic. That made it feel to drivers that cars along Prince George Street have the right of way, when in fact the opposite is true.

The three prongs of a traffic plan are education, enforcement and engineering, Hamill said. The department had done education and enforcement and the problems were still there, so leaders decided to address engineering. Public works staff said they had two illuminated stop signs in storage ready to go. The old, normal stop signs on Prince George Street were quickly replaced. The edge of the new signs flash when cars approach to remind them to stop.

City leaders also determined that a new stop sign on 4th Street at the intersection was warranted. It has yet to be installed, but is expected in the coming weeks. The city also trimmed trees and bushes near the intersection to improve visibility.

“One of our major objectives is enhancing traffic safety,” Hamill said. “If we’re able to do it with this, I think that’s a pretty good win.”

The new stop signs are not the only changes that may be coming to address traffic concerns in Laurel.

The city has started the process to complete a comprehensive review of traffic, speed and parking in Laurel, said Audrey Barnes, the city’s communications director.

“We will be looking at every intersection in the city,” she wrote in an email.

The mayor and city council members are dedicated to improving traffic, parking and pedestrian safety, Barnes said. There is a renewed emphasis on the “Keep Kids Alive Drive 25” campaign. The city will soon begin accepting proposals from engineering firms for the comprehensive traffic study. The study itself is expected to take several months to complete.

Dalphonse said she was grateful to Hamill, Moe and Goddard for their attention to the issue. She also thanked city council members Valerie Nicholas, Mike Leszcz and Carl DeWalt.

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“They acted so quickly,” she said. “I was very impressed.”

The city’s response is evidence of how committed it is to listening to residents' concerns, Hamill said.

“Something like this is an example of community and police working together,” he said.

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