Silver Spring Community Seeks Faster Action to Slow Speeders
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Residents along Dale Drive in Silver Spring are concerned about the growing number of speeding commuters they say use the road as a cut-through between Piney Branch and Colesville roads.
"You take your life into your hands when you walk across the street," said resident Scott Lasensky. He said he has video that shows school buses and cars speeding down the street during early-morning hours.
With two schools nearby and sparse sidewalks, worried residents have asked police and other officials at community meetings to increase enforcement. The speed limit varies -- 20 mph, 25 mph or 30 mph -- but with few stops between major roads, cars go much faster, residents say.
"There's no question the volume on Dale Drive is significantly more than it used to be," said Gordon Stoner, who has lived on the hilly street for 20 years. "The problem is people are now coming down the hills on either side, and when you come down the hills, there's a tendency to start rapidly gaining speed."
But Dale Drive is one of many areas where residents complain about traffic, and officials say only so much can be done because of limited resources.
The areas that receive the most enforcement are those that statistically have higher collision rates, such as state highways, said county police Sgt. Tom Harmon, a traffic enforcement officer in Silver Spring. Although there is speeding along Dale Drive, Harmon said, it has not been identified as a major problem. Harmon said he did not have statistics about speeding on the street.
"Often the perception of a problem, especially with speed, is greater than what it seems when we get in a neighborhood," Harmon said.
The county Department of Public Works and Transportation is slated to begin construction in spring 2010 on improvements to the intersection of Dale Drive and Colesville Road, including turn-only lanes and sidewalks. While residents welcome that project, they say it will not have much of an effect on speeding between that intersection and Piney Branch Road.
Phil Olivetti, a member of the Silver Spring Advisory Board who sits on the county transportation committee, said that traffic concerns are pervasive in Montgomery and that residents need to understand many neighborhoods are dealing with traffic issues.
"I think they recognize that there is not going to be a police car on every corner," he said. "[The police] are going to concentrate on major thoroughfares. They're not going to come into the neighborhood."
Harmon said he attends community meetings often and has to tell residents there is a limit to what police can do. Driving behavior can be changed through engineering, but county projects are costly and can take time.
"I wish we had more resources, and someday we may, but we need to work with what we've got," Harmon said.
Residents can call their police district office to report problems. "We don't always make everybody happy," Harmon said. "I've got a list of folks we need to call."