Berlin Council Hears Specific Traffic Concerns From Citizens

BERLIN – If you see something that leaves you concerned for public safety, don’t go straight to Facebook. Go to your local police department.

That’s the message Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing is pushing following recent traffic safety concerns — some of which were discussed via social media — in downtown Berlin.

“Social media is not the proper venue,” he said. “If it’s serious enough for you to have a concern, relay it to police.”

Traffic safety became a hot topic in town last week following a Facebook post by a concerned citizen who described motorists running stop signs and vehicles speeding on Main Street. The ensuing conversation on social media, in which several town residents and merchants shared similar observations, came after at least two members of the town council had reported issues with speeders in recent months.

The topic was revisited during Monday’s meeting of the town council when residents Todd DeHart and Rick Stack voiced their worries. DeHart, whose wife was one of those who shared her traffic safety worries on Facebook, asked whether a traffic study could be done to determine whether the town’s roads were safe. He also said there were motorists who didn’t stop properly at the intersection of West Street and Main Street, where there are two stop lines but only one stop sign.

“It’s just a little confusing,” DeHart said.

Downing encouraged DeHart to report any future examples of unsafe driving to his department. The chief said he’d had an officer spend an hour at the intersection but that the majority of motorists were stopping as they were expected to, at the stop lines.

Downing said that while Main Street itself was under the purview of Maryland’s State Highway Administration, he would contact officials there to relay the concerns about the intersection as well as speeds on Main Street.

“The town was not made for the traffic we have now,” he said.

Stack, who lives on Washington Street, told officials he was seeing more and more large trucks in the neighborhood. In making deliveries to downtown businesses, they were coming into town on its narrow side streets.

In an interview Tuesday, Downing said he would approach local restaurant owners to have them remind their delivery drivers to stay out of residential areas. Drivers who don’t heed the warning will receive citations, he added.

Downing said it was important for residents to share concerns like the ones voiced Monday with his department so law enforcement officers were aware of them.

Mayor Gee Williams offered similar comments. He said community policing should play an important role in Berlin.

“We all make mistakes but running stop signs is a pretty big one,” Williams said. “You as a citizen have a responsibility to call the police. That’s why we have law enforcement.”