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Neighbors toast new traffic light in North Baltimore after grassroots campaign for installation

Neighbors toast new traffic light in North Baltimore after grassroots campaign for installation
Baltimore City Department of Transportation Director Michelle Pourciau counts down the lighting of a new traffic signal at North Calvert and 23rd streets. (Lillian Reed / Baltimore Sun)

Neighbors living near North Calvert and 23rd streets say they’ve heard a screech of brakes and sudden thud enough times to know the North Baltimore intersection desperately needed a traffic light.

So when city officials lit the newly installed traffic signal in the Barclay neighborhood Thursday night, a small crowd of residents gathered to sip celebratory wine and snap selfies — and to swap dozens of anecdotes of near misses over the years.

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One such neighbor, Theresa Murphy-Librie, said she was almost struck herself while sitting on a stoop and two cars collided in front of her. One of the vehicles was pushed up onto the sidewalk, just missing her.

“It’s so much safer,” Murphy-Librie said Thursday, placing her hand over her heart and taking a deep breath.

City Councilman Robert Stokes Sr., who represents Barclay, said the group petitioned him to get the light installed, a process that took only about a year when the traffic incident data was reviewed. One house had been struck six times, he said.

The crowd applauded Thursday as the light flickered red for the first time. It might have been a small victory, but it was a victory nonetheless, Murphy-Librie said.

“It shows people if you put energy into it, you can get things done,” she said.

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