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As Route 175 traffic grows, bill would clear the way for Anne Arundel first speed camera

Jaime Villa said cars speeding on Route 175 in Jessup have crashed into his yard, garage and home at least four times.

The danger is so great that he doesn’t let his daughter play in the yard and wears his construction work safety gear to walk to the mailbox. The speed some cars travel at, he said, is “almost negligent.”

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Villa thinks a speed camera would help keep drivers accountable.

“I believe speed cameras could help, just knowing they are there, drivers will reduce their speed to avoid getting a ticket and paying a fine,” Villa said. “This could save the lives of my family and those in my community.”

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Anne Arundel would get the power to install the first such devices on a state road in the county outside of Annapolis if an enabling bill from Sen. Pam Beidle successfully makes it through the General Assembly this year.

Under Senate Bill 888, the county would only be able to install them between the exit from the Baltimore Washington Parkway and the Howard County line. Beidle, D-Linthicum, said it’s necessary because cars are traveling fast as they come off the parkway, and traffic to the NSA, local business parks and residential neighborhoods is growing.

The stretch of road Beidle wants to monitor is less than two miles long, and the speed limit is 35 mph.

“The traffic on this little sleepy state road has turned out to be just very, very congested, but still very fast,” Beidle said during a Senate Judicial Proceedings hearing Thursday.

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Even if the state legislation passes, the council would have to hold a public hearing and pass legislation and then fund the cameras in the budget before they could be installed. State law requires the jurisdiction to publish a notice of the speed monitoring system on its website and in the local newspaper.

Once cameras are installed, fines can’t be issued until signs are posted and then for the following 15 days. They would not be allowed to exceed $40.

County Executive Steuart Pittman’s administration has no opposition to the bill, Government Affairs Officer Pete Baron said. And the county Police Department did not take a position, said Sgt. Kam Cooke, a police spokesman.

John O’Lexey, president of the Jessup Improvement Association, said he’s been approached by many corridor residents concerned about traffic. Residents face great danger even trying to get in and out of their driveways, he said. Others have voiced concerns about the location of their mailboxes, which sit along the road and what he described as three-foot-wide shoulders.

County Council Chair Sarah Lacey, D-Jessup, said if she lived on Route 175, she wouldn’t let her children play in the front yard, either.

She remembers driving this stretch of road when she first moved to Maryland more than a decade ago, and it felt rural. Now, it’s a common detour for commuters when there is an accident on Interstate 95 or the Baltimore Washington Parkway, and it’s known in the community to be a place where accidents are common.

She said she supports the speed cameras, and if the state legislation passes, she will bring forth the local legislation needed to install the cameras.

She said she’d expect to have the support of her colleagues: “I would hope that legislation like this that would be directly addressing a public safety issue after having gone through the State House would pass 7-0.”

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