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Residents tackle traffic situation

March 14, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

FUNKSTOWN - One car barely stopped at all, using the old "rolling stop" method to ease through the intersection.

Another sped past.

Two cars heading in opposite directions passed intimately by, neither too eager to pull over and allow the other to pass.

It was dusk on Poplar Street in Funkstown, possibly the second-busiest street in this small town on the edge of Antietam Creek.

Denise McCoy, 37, and her next-door neighbor Ed Reagan, 34, live on East Poplar Street and have watched the amount of traffic steadily increase, prompting them and others to propose that portions of Poplar and Chestnut streets be made one-way.

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Proponents of the plan have even volunteered to pay for the one-way signs.

For months McCoy, Reagan and others have voiced their concerns to Town Council, but so far the only remedy offered by the town was to put up larger stop signs and white warning stripes on the roads near the signs.

Mayor Robert Kline said a meeting was recently held with the county engineer to discuss the one-way streets proposal, but that the engineer said such a plan wouldn't be feasible because too much traffic would be routed onto Baltimore Street.

"That's crowded now," Kline said.

He said he couldn't guess what will happen.

"We just don't know what we're going to do yet," he said. "We need our bypass and I don't think we going to get it right away."

From her home, McCoy pointed out the passing traffic.

"Stop sign to stop sign is 25 (mph) and people are just flying through," McCoy said. "Our whole issue is safety."

McCoy has two children, 9 and 11 years old, and Reagan has an 8-year-old daughter.

"We make our kids ride (their bicycles) back there," McCoy said, pointing toward a quiet street along the creek, "because it's a dead end."

A portable speed-measuring machine was set up on Poplar Street and showed that in just under six days, 3,375 vehicles passed it, going as fast as 35 mph, according to McCoy.

That's nearly 600 vehicles driving by every day - using the residential street as a way to avoid the stop lights on Baltimore Street/Alternate U.S. 40.

"People use this basically as a bypass," Reagan said. "And the stop signs are really ineffective."

Both Reagan and McCoy said the traffic includes large trucks and tractor-trailers, even though signs prohibit trucks from using the street for any purpose other than making local deliveries.

One woman on the street had her telephone service knocked out because a truck hit a utility pole, while a man with eyesight problems wrote a letter complaining of unsafe conditions on the road, according to Reagan and McCoy.

Worst of all, they said, they worry, the situation could become even worse, with hundreds of town houses and other development planned for the area.

Although parking is allowed on both sides of the street, it means that when cars are parked on both sides, traffic cannot easily pass without one car moving over.

On this particular evening, a neighbor had parked a car halfway on the road and halfway on grass. Reagan said that's not uncommon.

"It's better safe than sorry. You shouldn't have to do that," he said.

They both agreed that their biggest fear is that someone, someday is going to be hurt in a traffic-related accident. And they worry that's going to be the only impetus for action.

"It's going to take it to that point for someone to make a change," Reagan said.

When Reagan first moved to Funkstown three years ago he said he loved the historical, quiet nature of the town.

That's changed, he said.

"In three years it just seems like it keeps progressing," he said.

They pointed out that one block of Green Street, the block in which Councilman Kim Ramer lives, is one-way.

"So if they (Town Council members) want it done it can be done," said McCoy, whose husband's family has lived in Funkstown for more than 75 years.

McCoy and Reagan were interviewed for this article several days before Monday's Town Council meeting, where they planned to once again raise their concerns.

"The Town Council needs to get up and do something for the community," Reagan said. "That's their job, to keep us happy and safe. And I don't feel like that's being done."

The council said Monday it will get cost estimates for a traffic count study in town.

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