The State Highway Administration has designated a new school zone on MD 924 in Bel Air near Patterson Mill Middle/High School, and plans to install a new pedestrian crossing signal at the intersection with Patterson Mill Road.
The new school zone extends along MD 924 from just south of Patterson Mill Rd. to just south of East Ring Factory Road, according to a December letter from SHA to County Council Member James “Capt’n Jim” McMahan , District C, Bel Air.
McMahan asked SHA to designate a school zone at MD 924 and Patterson Mill Road, citing the high number of student walkers in the area and school buses entering the state highway from the school. Fines for speeding can be doubled in a school zone.
McMahan said that he made the request in response to constituent concerns.
New signs alerting drivers to the school zone and doubled fines are planned, and should be installed before March, said Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for SHA. Once the signs are posted, law enforcement can enforce the school zone, said Harford County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Edward Hopkins.
No change to the current speed limit of 40 mph is planned by the state, according to Gischlar, although McMahan said he is considering whether to request a reduction to 30 mph during school hours only, Monday through Friday.
In addition to the new school zone, a new pedestrian crossing signal has been approved for the intersection of MD 924 and Patterson Mill Rd/Barrington Rd, Gischlar said. Pedestrians will be able to activate the signal, which will also have a countdown feature.
Speed cameras are allowed in school zones by state law. However, Gischlar said that they first have to be proposed by the local jurisdiction. When asked if he was planning such a proposal, McMahan said, “Absolutely not.”
Below is the December 13th letter from SHA to Councilman McMahan, announcing the new school zone:
“Dear Councilman McMahan:
This is a follow up to your request to have Patterson Mill High School marked as a School Zone along MD 924 (Emmorton Road) in Harford County. We have completed our review and would like to share our findings with you.
During our review, it was determined that this location does meet our guidelines for establishing a school zone with fines doubled. The school zone will be from just south of East Ring Factory Road to south of Patterson Mill Road. The school zone will include Ring Factory Elementary, Patterson Middle/High School, and The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. Weather permitting; we anticipate having the signing installed within the next 90 days.
Thank you for your interest in this matter of traffic safety and operations.
David W. Peake
State Highway Administration – District 4
Metropolitan District Engineer
Baltimore and Harford Counties”