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Run-in with curb leads man to request warnings

March 10, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

It took almost a month and about 10 phone calls but a Smithsburg resident with the email address of thecurbgotme@yahoo.com has succeeded in getting the state to warn drivers about a change in the location of a curb.

As part of the $1.7 million state-funded Streetscape work in Hagerstown, the curb on the right side of Franklin Street was shifted into the parking lane to narrow the street, Hagerstown Engineer Rodney Tissue said Wednesday.

The change had two goals - making the driver aware of the narrowing of the street, prompting them to slow down, and shortening the distance pedestrians at the intersection have to walk to cross Franklin, he said.

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The project was constructed as designed, Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck said Wednesday.

On Feb. 7, Bryan Wiles was driving in the right lane at Franklin Street near the intersection with Prospect Street when he hit a curb at the corner, ruining a wheel and costing him $400.

Wiles felt the change was a traffic hazard and wanted the public warned about it, he said. He saw at least two other cars hit the curb that day, he said.

During the following weeks, he called city and state officials as well as the Streetscape contractor, Callas Contractors of Hagerstown, but he seemed to have no success in getting any progress with his request.

"Most people would have stopped after the first two calls. I was just persistent," Wiles said.

He said Wednesday that he was pleased to find that earlier in the week the contractor put construction barrels on the curb.

"At least now, nobody else will hit that," he said.

Buck applauded Wiles for his persistence and his successful effort to get public notification. It is unfortunate he called the wrong people but it is not Wiles' fault that he did not know who to contact about the problem, Buck said.

While the curb was built by a contractor as designed, the change may not have been easily visible to drivers, Buck said.

When winter weather came sooner than expected this year, the state had to stop some projects earlier than planned and it may not have put up all the warnings of street and curb changes that were intended, Buck said.

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