Every day, between 50 and 100 Eleanor Roosevelt High School students scramble through a hole in a chain link fence and make a mad dash across the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to and from the city of Greenbelt. So far, no one has been hurt.
And after a recent meeting of federal, state and city officials sponsored by Rep. Gladys N. Spellman (D-Md.) to discuss building an overpass just north of the Greenbelt Road interchange near the favored pathway, hope was expressed that no one ever would be.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Brock Adams recently approved the release of funds to build the overpass (or underpass, if the final design calls for one) from money allocated through the Federal Highway Act for rebuilding the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
The Maryland Department of Transportation can now begin planning the crossing. But because the parkway is owned and operated by the National Park Service, DOT will need the advice of several layers of government - "bureaucracies," Spellman called them - to complete it.
The project will cost between $200,000 and $300,000 to complete, and Maryland DOT officials say they will call on the student body of the high school and on Greenbelt residents to join them in planning the design.
Jacqueline Gillian of DOT, who brought a letter to Spellman indicating Adam's support of the project, said Adams hopes to see the project completed before the next school term. But officials and Greenbelt residnts expressed concern that an interim measure is necessary.
"I'm open to suggestions for an interim measure, short of electrifying the fence," said John Jessup of the Park Service.
Muriel Wiedenfeld, whose daughter attends Roosevelt, suggested that the state widen the sidewalk on the Rte. 193 bridge that connects Greenbelt to the Roosevelt high school area so students would be more inclined to use it. The walkway now is little more than a curb that is crumbling into the street, she said.
But it is the Park Service which would have to repair the bridge walkway. Jessup expressed hope that citizens could come up with other suggestions at a series of meetings the Park Service proposes to hold next month in Greenbelt and at the high school.