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Baltimore County Executive, councilman to launch traffic calming pilot program

Baltimore County is starting a pilot program to install digital speed signs around the county to calm traffic.

The program, which was announced jointly by County Executive Johnny Olszewski and County Councilman David Marks, will place one digital speed sign in each council district, according to a press release, and the Department of Public Works will study whether the signs help reduce speeding.

“Traffic safety was a major concern raised at the 5th District town hall meeting,” Marks said in a statement, referring to a meeting held Jan. 10 in Towson. “I commend County Executive Olszewski for working so quickly to create this pilot program on speed sign technology.”

Marks said the idea came after he proposed legislation that would require one-fourth of the county’s revenues from speed cameras to pay for traffic-safety improvements. He said Olszewski’s administration objected to that bill.

“What they offered was this pilot program instead, which I’m very excited about,” Marks said, adding that he is withdrawing the bill.

Baltimore County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said the pilot program was the result of the town hall, at which multiple people spoke of concerns about cars speeding through their neighborhoods.

“Marks had expressed particular interest in this technology,” Kobler said, so the administration began working with him to develop the program.

The county currently has speed cameras installed at 61 public and private schools around the county. But according to state law, those cameras can only be installed in school zones. Marks said the digital speed signs, on the other hand, can be installed anywhere.

The program’s cost and timeline have yet to be determined, Kobler said. Marks said he had researched the cost of the signs independently and found they run about $3,000 each.

The location of each sign also has not been determined. Kobler said that decision will be made in conjunction with each council member.

Marks said in his district, he would like to see the signs placed on either Stevenson Lane or Regester Avenue.

The signs will not result in tickets, but are a “simple reminder to motorists of their speed,” Marks said. Because they are solar-operated and do not store footage, they can be maintained by county crews instead of contracted to a private company, unlike speed cameras, he said.

If the program shows that the signs are effective, Marks said he hopes to expand it.

Separately, Baltimore County Police currently have five mobile speed boards that they install “in areas where we have traffic complaints or where our statistics show high incidences of crashes,” spokesman Shawn Vinson said.

Though police have not collected data on speeding where signs have been posted, he said anecdotally citizens have given “positive feedback” about their impact.

asolomon@baltsun.com

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