After evaluation, Blair intersections approved for countdown signals

May 13, 2005, midnight | By Caitlin Garlow | 15 years, 8 months ago

New signals to be installed at Colesville and University intersection

The State Highway Association (SHA) has recommended that new countdown crossing lights be installed for the safety of pedestrians at the intersections of University Boulevard and Colesville Road and University Boulevard and Lexington Drive. These new signals will be installed within the next 12 to 18 months.

Blair parent, Debra Reed-Gillette, brought the issue of dangerous Blair intersections to the SHA this year after her son, junior James Gillette, was hit by a car while running with the wrestling team in October of 2004. After the incident, Reed-Gillette put additional effort into increasing pedestrian safety, although she had already been involved in the issue for two years. "When James was in the ninth grade I [had] started trying to contact the SHA because I thought the crossing times [at the intersections] were too short," Reed-Gillette said.

After sending frequent emails to the SHA, in which Reed-Gillette expressed her dismay "by the continued lack of [care from] the various government agencies with regards to the pedestrian safety in the area of Blair," the SHA decided to conduct an evaluation of the intersections around Blair in the spring.

The District Engineer of the SHA, Charlie Watkins, notified Reed-Gillette that his team of traffic engineers had recommended the intersection at University Boulevard and Lexington Drive and the intersection at University Boulevard and Colesville Road, both east and west bound, for countdown crossing lights. The SHA Office of Traffic and Safety approved the recommendations two weeks later, according to the SHA spokesperson, Chuck Gischlar. Gischlar mentioned that the SHA tries to be as proactive as possible in reevaluating intersections when there is new development. "Safety is our number one priority," he said.

The countdown lights are primarily used in areas that have very heavy pedestrian traffic, such as school zones, commercial developments and big business sectors, according to Gischlar. The design and implementation for these new crossing lights in the Blair vicinity will take approximately one year, according to the SHA Assistant District Engineer Lee Starkloff. "They probably will not be in before school starts in September," he said.

Reed-Gillette was especially happy to hear that the countdown crossing lights would be installed at the intersection of University Boulevard and Colesville Road, as the intersection was rated the second most dangerous intersection in the state of Maryland by State Farm Insurance, due to the number of and severity of the collisions there. "One of the things that will help prevent [these] accidents is countdown lights," she said, "because if you know how much time is left, you're less likely to cross dangerously."

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Caitlin Garlow. Caitlin is a second-semester senior at last. Her favorite things include making fun of her homeless sister and hunting down her clothes in other people's closets. More »

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