Drivers speeding through town, squealing wheels and revving engines are turning tranquil roads into drag strips in Carroll's two smallest towns.

Motorists enter both towns from highways with speed limits of 55 mph. Few slow down to 25, said Toni Eder, whose children often play on the sidewalk outside their Union Bridge home.

Main Street residents in Union Bridge and New Windsor have lodged repeated complaints with their mayors, saying drivers are turning streets into speedways.

Mayors Edward L. Williar and James C. Carlisle have passed the complaints to Tfc. Phillip L. Henry, the resident state trooper, who splits his 40-hour week between the two towns.

"My husband and I watched the same pickup, full of young men, race up and down our street four times," said Elaine Holmes. "We called the trooper but, without a radar gun, he couldn't do anything."

While Henry is usually a phone call away, the equipment needed to trap speeders is not as accessible. The Westminster barracks has about a dozen radar guns, with four times that many troopers vying to use them.

Henry said he frequently has waited at the barracks for an hour before his shift started, hoping to get a gun, but often returns to the municipalities ill-equipped to deal with speeders. Without the monitoring equipment, an officer has to pace a suspected speeder, following the driver for several miles, before issuing a ticket.

"On the open road, pacing is not too difficult," said 1st Sgt. Steven C. Reynolds, resident trooper coordinator. "In a town, though, it's nearly impossible.

Reynolds gave the two neighboring towns the option of buying their own radar gun and sharing the $1,200 cost. The barracks still would handle maintenance and calibration of the equipment.

With little debate, both councils agreed to the purchase this month.

"Just having the radar gun on the trooper's --board will be a deterrent," said Councilman Scott W. Davis of Union Bridge, who introduced the motion. "A man has got to have all the tools of his trade, if he's going to be able to do his job."

Union Bridge Councilman Jeff Six cast the sole dissenting vote on either council, saying he wouldn't call speeding a problem.

Eder said the councilman would change his mind if he lived on her street.

Once purchased, the radar gun, a Kustom KR10, would stay in Henry's car. If the towns discontinue the sharing program, either would have the option of buying it.

"We have to help ourselves on this one," said Council President Perry L. Jones Jr. "Speeding is a crime we can stop."

While he understands the residents' concerns, Henry said he thinks the problem comes down to a few offenders.

"Once the word gets out about the new gun, I'll have a hammer on them," he said.

Copyright The Baltimore Sun 1990

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