OVERLEA — Multiple car crashes have occurred in the past few weeks on Northern Parkway, with perhaps one of the most serious ones on Jan. 5 on the eastern section of the road, which nearby residents have expressed concerns to city officials about for months.
Although the city is scheduled to start a project in the spring to improve traffic safety along the corridor, officials are exploring options to reduce accident rates in advance of that effort, as residents call for a more aggressive approach.
“We are requesting swift action to calm this traffic,” said Caitlin Ceryes, an Overlea Community Association board member who lives in a house on the crash-ridden eastern section of the road in Overlea, in an email to city officials. “East Northern Parkway is extremely dangerous. Please prioritize it for calming and speed camera placement as soon as possible.”
Ceryes said that the need for traffic calming is emphasized by recent accidents, including the one on Jan. 5, in which a vehicle flipped on its roof right outside of her home. No one was injured in the crash, a Baltimore Police Department official confirmed, yet Ceryes is worried that it is “only a matter of time” before someone is hurt.
Late last year, the city announced it is moving forward on a road improvement this spring, as reported by The Avenue; however, a specific date has not yet been set, an official with the city’s Department of Transportation said.
“Roadway striping is weather- and temperature-dependent,” the official said, “so the best timeframe we can provide is still spring 2022.”
Ceryes emailed photos of recent accidents, which were taken by “gravely concerned” residents who live along the street, to city officials.
One of the recipients was District 2 Baltimore City Council member Danielle McCray, who forwarded them on Jan. 5 to DOT Director Steve Sharkey and Baltimore Police Department Major Steven Hohman. In McCray’s email, she asked Sharkey if an engineer could visit the location to assess options to assist in decreasing the accident rate, providing a list of community suggestions.
In an email to The Avenue on Jan. 11, a DOT official said that an internal request has been submitted within the department for installment of a radar speed sign to the corridor.
“The city regularly rotates speed feedback signs throughout the city for data collection and to alert drivers of their speeds, with the goal being temporary speed reduction and modified driving behavior,” the official said.
McCray asked Hohman for increased police presence within the 3700-4100 blocks of Northern Parkway to help reduce speeding.
Hohman, who is district commander for the Northeastern District, said in response that he is working to dedicate an officer per shift for traffic enforcement there.
“I am trying to work out the logistics now and hope to have it in place soon,” Hohman said in the email. “In the meantime, I will have the sector officers give that area more attention.”
In McCray’s email, she also said that she appreciates the work that the DOT has completed thus far in conjunction with her office and the Overlea Community Association, and that she looks forward to the traffic-calming project that will be completed in the spring.
“My concerns are that we continue to do everything possible to ensure that the accidents are reduced and there are no future fatalities,” she added.
When reached by The Avenue by phone, McCray’s office said that she had no further comment on the issue.
Ceryes told The Avenue that she has been emailing city officials because she believes that anyone who sees the “severity of the situation and frequency of these accidents” will be compelled to respond.
“I think the DOT has and will respond to the best of their ability,” she said, “but with ever-present competition for city resources for projects such as this it’s good to make sure.”