Hilton Parkway closings irk driver Necessary inconvenience: Police say road is closed only for emergency vehicles


Lester Bergenstein, a Baltimore resident who hails from New York (aka the driving capital of the world), has a complaint about driving on Hilton Parkway between Edmondson Avenue and North Avenue.

More precisely, his complaint is about driving on the parkway when there is an accident, which seems all too often. The police, he says, are too quick to close both directions of the parkway, even for the most minor accidents.

"I know how to get through, but many people don't know how to snake their way around Bloomsbury or Poplar Grove streets," Mr. Bergenstein said. Hilton Parkway has a long history of being one of the city's most treacherous roadways and a threat whether wet or dry. In fact, we remember being a young wheeler and seeing countless fender benders as we drove through on our way from the Walbrook Junction area to Arbutus and Edmondson Village.

Three years ago, the parkway's lanes were widened and regraded because of numerous accidents, said Maj. Alvin Winkler, of the city police traffic division.

Lt. Joseph Richardson of the Southwestern police station said the parkway is closed only when an accident requires emergency vehicles and is seldom, if ever, closed for minor accidents.

"The only way to get an ambulance to an accident is to close both lanes," Lieutenant Richardson said. "Unfortunately, in that area, it's frequently a serious accident."

Slow down

As someone who likes to drive at a pretty good clip, your Intrepid One seldom, if ever, has driven through an area where we thought the speed limit was too high.

That is until we cruised Mays Chapel Road near Timonium in Baltimore County.

The speed limit on Mays Chapel is 30 mph, which we -- and some residents -- believe is a tad high considering part of Mays Chapel travels through a townhouse community where children play and part is curvy and runs amid more houses and a golf course crossing.

"The road is blind. My 9-month-old puppy was hit yesterday, and I have a 9-year-old child who I can't let stand out on the bus stop by herself because of the speed of the cars," said Priscilla White, who lives on Mays Chapel near Brierleigh Court.

Baltimore County police monitored the area near Ms. White's house last week and found no speed violators, said Lt. Minda Foxwell.

In the townhouse section of the community, residents said either a lower speed limit or a speed bump would make the area safer.

"You just don't want to wander out too far from the houses when cars come whizzing past. It can be very scary," said David Augustine, a resident of Mays Chapel Village.

Steve Webber, county traffic engineer, said once residents send a written request to the county, engineers will study the area to determine if any action should be taken.

Expanded parking

We normally don't get too excited over matters such as this, but here's some good news for light rail commuters who board the trains in North Linthicum: 185 additional parking spaces on the station's lot as of today. The parking lot expansion gives the station a total of 344 spaces.

"The need for extra parking at North Linthicum is proof of the success of light rail in Anne Arundel County, a success we are continuing to build upon," said John A. Argo, Mass Transit Authority administrator.

The Central Light Rail carries 20,000 commuters between Timonium and Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie daily. About 400 riders board the trains at the North Linthicum station.

More efficient officers

Hoping to increase the efficiency of its police officers, MTA has issued eight hand-held AutoCite computers to officers that will allow them to upload information to other police agencies on outstanding warrants and stolen vehicles, as well as print tickets.

The computers cost a total of $42,000 -- and will allow MTA officers to check the history on violators and issue citations for nonpayment of fares.

"The MTA Police Department is the first law agency in the state to use the hand-held computers for violations other than parking citations," said Bernard Forster, MTA police chief.

Since January, MTA's 100-member police force has issued more than 8,000 citations for violations such as bringing food into MTA vehicles, fare evasion, rowdiness and cars parked illegally at bus stops.

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