Man fights for stop sign on Rte. 100 Family accident spurs campaign PASADENA


The high-speed merge from Route 100 to Mountain Road near Lake Shore worries State Highway Administration engineers who are evaluating new designs.

But changes are not coming fast enough to satisfy at least one Pasadena family.

Robert Hargett of South Carolina Avenue has hounded state and county politicians for the past month -- since his grandmother crashed her 1984 Dodge minivan into a 1985 Oldsmobile -- to install a stop sign at the end of eastbound Route 100. His grandmother, Ellen Joseph Wilkens, broke her arm and his mother, who was riding with her, suffered cuts and bruises, he said.

A police report attributes fault for the accident to the driver of the Oldsmobile, Mary Ellen Strum, 63, of Columbia. Mrs. Strum left eastbound 100 and attempted to turn left across Mountain Road from the merge lane when she was struck, the report says.

"This has been a problem for the past few years," Mr. Hargett said. "It's a regular thing where you just about broadside someone because they just come out there without yielding."

Mr. Hargett, 29, said he has watched the population on the Mountain Road peninsula grow at an ever-quickening pace over his lifetime. As the population increased so has the traffic and the potential for accidents, he said.

But, he complained, "they aren't doing anything with the roads."

State Del. W. Ray Huff, D-Pasadena, and Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, said they have pressed the State Highway Administration to improve Mountain Road.

However, a $10 million plan to expand it from two to five lanes between Route 100 and South Carolina Avenue was indefinitely delayed last year because of the poor economy and a decline in state tax revenues.

"The cars stop and screech their breaks all the time," Mr. Huff said. "People coming off 100 think they are on a big road and don't realize there isn't that much room to merge."

SHA officials say they are moving forward with plans to make modest, less costly improvements to the entire road. To help westbound traffic move more freely from Mountain Road to Route 100, the state plans to lengthen the left-turn lane in the fall of 1995, said SHA District Engineer Edward Meehan.

Mr. Meehan said he also is mulling the possibility of creating a T-intersection with a traffic signal because the high-speed merge does create a potential for accidents. However, the expense of such an intersection and the relatively low number of accidents there have made it a low priority, he said.

SHA spokeswoman Cathy Hickey said state records show only two accidents at the intersection in 1993, and none in either of the two previous years.

OC Mr. Meehan said the T-intersection and signal could be reconsid

ered next spring when engineers select projects for 1996 and 1997.

The SHA has taken other measures to improve the intersection over the years, including placing orange pylons between the eastbound and westbound lanes of Mountain Road to prevent motorists from making illegal U-turns.

Mr. Hargett said he's not satisfied. 1995 or later "is way too long to wait for as dangerous an intersection as that is," he said.

Delegate Huff said, "I can understand his being upset, but [his grandmother's accident] wasn't caused by a problem with the road. It was because someone did something they weren't supposed to do. If people aren't going to obey the traffic signs, I don't care what you do with the road, you're still going to have accidents."

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