The state is to begin replacing the crumbled median strip and installing left-turn lanes along Ritchie Highway in Brooklyn Park from Ninth Avenue to the Baltimore line in the spring to improve safety.
The $1.3 million project, funded through the Department of Transportation Directed Growth and Neighborhood Conservation Project, is the second part of a three-phase effort to improve older neighborhoods and infrastructure.
The number of lanes will be reduced from six to four to allow the addition of left-turn lanes, and trees will be planted in the widened median strip.
The first phase of the project, which cost $1.4 million, added left-turn lanes at intersections and improved intersection safety at 11th and 16th avenues, Church Street and Hammonds Lane.
"What it's done is it's given us a safer way of entering and exiting Ritchie Highway. That's been a major plus," said Albert Bowen, vice president of the Olde Brooklyn Park Improvement Association.
Residents expressed mixed views about the initial work, which was completed last year, but agreed it made the neighborhood look better.
"I didn't care for the first part [of the project] since they took that lane away. It just makes for more traffic there.
"But it definitely looks nicer," Brooklyn Park resident Gary Keefe, said.
Merchants welcomed the project.
"We're definitely looking forward to it, and it's definitely something we've needed along Ritchie Highway. I think it will represent the area better, be more attractive and hopefully it might solve some traffic problems here in regards to accidents," said Tom Lanier, owner of Lanier Engineering Sales Inc., in the 4700 block of Ritchie Highway.
Bob Perry, owner of Terrace Video Repair in the 4100 block of Ritchie Highway, said he liked the idea of the left-turn lane.
"I guess I see between 50 and 100 accidents per year at this juncture," said Perry as he gazed at cars zipping past his shop, "and primarily it's caused by people turning into these side streets."
"It's very, very dangerous. This whole road is. Going up [north] isn't too bad. But they roll coming down," he said.
The last phase of the project will involve improvements from Hammonds Lane into Glen Burnie. That phase is expected to get funding as early as fiscal year 1998, said state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, an Anne Arundel Democrat.
Pub Date: 12/29/96