The homemade signs have adorned the roadside of the one-third-mile stretch of Piney Branch Road in Takoma Park for nearly a month.
In large lettters, they tell motorists that police are watching for those who speed along the heavily traveled thoroughfare just over the Distric line. They mark the locations of several accidents, and they warn drivers to be alert for the neighborhood's children.
The residents who posted the signs are protesting the state highway administration's plans to change their section of Piney Branch from a two-lane road with a single dividing line into a three-lane road in which the direction traffic would flow in one lane would be dependent on time of day. The modifications would exacerbate the problem of speeding cars, the residents claim.
All involved - residents, police, state highway administrators, and Takoma Park and county officials - agree that many drivers use the part of Piney Branch from the District line to Rte. 410 (Philadelphia Avenue) as a raceway.
They also agree that, along with other factors, speeding has been the cause of a series of accidents over the years in which cars have crashed through fences onto resident's lawns and porches.
Slade Caltrider, district traffic engineer for the state highway department, said that their studies show " a very heavy abuse" of the 30-mile-per-hour speed limit in the area by more than 66 per cent of the 16,000 to 20,000 vehicles that travel each day.
All semmingly agree that placement of traffic lights along with vigorous police enforcement of the speed limit is needed.
However, where the residents and Caltrider part company is over the ideas for modifying the road. They have singled out Caltrider, whom they say has ignored their concerns, dubbing their portion of the road the "Caltrider Momerial Speedway."
Caltrider, while stoically acknowledging the residents' criticism recently, said it was misplaced.
He said his division is only following a plan drawn up three years ago by members of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and approved by the Montgomery County Council.
The plan was drawn up to prepare for the Metro station that is to open this year in the Takoma Park area. The new lane configuration is primarily to accommodate the Metrobuses that will feed into the station.
"We recognize there's a problem there," he said. "But we're not forcing this on them. We're following the dictates of local planners."
However, Louis and Mary D'Ovidio of 7324 Piney Branch Rd. said Caltrider himself has never met with residents to discuss plans for the road, always sending subordinates instead. The D'Ovidios said no one from the department mentioned the three-year-old plan until a public meeting a month ago.
"There's no way we can live with those (12-foot-wide) lanes," Mary D'Ovidio said. "Our children won't be able to walk to school safely. We won't be able to walk on the (narrow) sidewalks."
The D'Ovidios and other residents have proposed an alternate plan of four 9-foot-wide lanes, which they said would force traffic to slow down and perhaps discourage some commuter traffic. Caltrider and park and planning commission officials narrow for buses.
"The plan doesn't call for any widening of the (currently 36-feet-wide) street," said Leel Adams, the park and planning commission official. "But the modifications are needed absolutely. It would caused an extremely dangerous traffic situation any other way."
The D'Ovidios said they and their neighbors haven't given up, however. They said they plan to ask country and park and planning commission officials to reconsider that part of the plan affecting their street.