Civic groups organizing to form traffic panel County's efforts are criticized EAST COLUMBIA

East Columbia village boards and neighboring communities are creating a traffic advisory committee to correct what organizers call the county's "Band-Aid approach" to solving safety problems.

Alleviating dangerous traffic situations caused by more traffic and motorists' tendency to disobey traffic laws has been cited as a top priority by village boards throughout Columbia.


The Oakland Mills village board is leading the effort to form the committee, which would work out traffic problems with the county and urge the development of a comprehensive traffic plan for the area, say Oakland Mills officials.

The recent installation of a traffic light at Stevens Forest Road and Kilimanjaro Road, near Stevens Forest Elementary School in Oakland Mills, spurred interest in the committee, angering nearby residents who say the county ignored their concerns about school children's safety and other traffic issues.


"It's a perfect example of the county picking and choosing what will make the biggest visual effect without addressing what the problems are," said village board Chairman James Oremland.

The county conducted traffic speed and volume tests at the intersection and determined that the light was warranted.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker wrote to Mr. Oremland that the traffic signal installation was a response to a request for "immediate action" by the village board and the Stevens Forest Elementary PTA. The Department of Public Works determined that the signal was needed for the safety of school children, he wrote, adding that the department will continue monitoring the intersection.

"The administration does share your concerns about traffic safety in the East Columbia area and agrees that additional traffic control measures are probably needed in the community," Mr. Ecker wrote. "We agree that the best approach to this issue may be to work with a representative group of citizens to develop a plan for other traffic control measures."

East Columbia officials have expressed concern about the chain-reaction effect of traffic pattern changes.

For example, the widening and extension of Broken Land Parkway has led to an increase in traffic on Stevens Forest Road.

Also, the new light on Stevens Forest Road could result in increased traffic on nearby Farewell Road, if motorists try to avoid the signal.

"We want these addressed in a comprehensive fashion, not a Band-Aid approach," said Eric Bauman, Oakland Mills village board member.


The county's traffic engineering division has met with village boards this year to discuss isolated traffic concerns, such as:

* Tamar Drive and Old Montgomery Road, near Jeffers Hill Elementary School in Long Reach village.

* Oakland Mills Road, where traffic circles are planned.

* Cradlerock Way in Owen Brown village, where a new library is being constructed and volume has increased.

* Shaker Drive in Kings Contrivance village, where two humps have been installed to slow speeders.

Mr. Ecker advised the Oakland Mills board that a traffic advisory committee could participate in the Department of Planning and Zoning's development of a transportation "master plan" for the county.