One-way routing may curb drug traffic

November 05, 1997


Staff Writer

Hagerstown officials are considering fighting the illegal drug trade with an unlikely weapon: one-way street signs.

A group consisting of police, prosecutors and officials from various city departments has proposed a series of traffic changes that would make Sumans Avenue and nearby streets one-way roads headed north.

The hope is to disrupt drug dealers in the area, making illegal activities easier to detect and law-breakers easier to catch. Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II will meet with area residents at 7 p.m. today in the Sumans Avenue Community Center.

City Councilman J. Wallace "Wally" McClure, however, questioned whether the changes would create too great a burden to the area's residents. In some cases, a motorist who missed his turn would have loop around several streets.


"It's not neighborhood-friendly," McClure said at Tuesday's council work session.

But Bruchey said that is the point.

"Wally, the whole intent is to make it inconvenient," he said.

Among the changes proposed:

- Designate the alley that runs parallel between North Potomac Street and Sumans Avenue one-way northbound from North Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue.

- Change Sumans Avenue from two-way to one-way northbound from North Avenue to Charles Street.

- Designate the alley that runs east-west between Sumans Avenue and Jonathan Street one-way eastbound.

- Designate Rubbie Avenue - an alley east of Jonathan Street - one-way northbound from North Avenue to Charles Street.

- Designate Boward Street - an alley east of Park Place - one-way northbound from North Avenue to Charles Street.

Hagerstown City Police officials said in a memo that making Sumans Avenue a one-way street would discourage both drug dealers and customers in the Wheaton Park area.

The traffic group also recommended that parking along Sumans Avenue be restricted to two hours. The police department has agreed to honor parking passes issued by the Hagerstown Housing Authority in order to exempt residents.

The intent is to prevent drug dealers from parking their cars in the neighborhood while they sell drugs during the day.

City Engineer Bruce E. Johnston noted the daytime restrictions would have minimal impact on businesses since the area is mostly residential.

"It's commercial all right - but we're not getting any taxes," said Bruchey, in a reference to the drug trade.

McClure said he supports the changes as long as residents understand the impact they will have and get an opportunity to voice their opinions.

Bruchey said he has spoken with a number of area residents who want to get rid of drugs.

"They've said: `I'd rather be inconvenienced than dead,'" he said.

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