Letters: We need protection from Orleans Street

Published 11/16/2023 5:30 a.m. EST

By Thursday afternoon, the city's transportation department had fixed the Orleans Street sign with the correct spelling.

I’m reaching out as a longtime Southeast Baltimore resident and advocate. There has been lots of rumbling as of late about the redesign of the downtown corridor. It includes reshaping the intersection of Pratt and Light streets, making the corridor more pedestrian friendly with hopes of attracting people back to the Inner Harbor.

Problems with traffic flow and pedestrian access aren’t new to Baltimore. I’ve lived and volunteered in areas along Orleans Street and have watched it turn into a four-lane highway with no traffic regulation or calming for blocks at a time. There have been complaints, meetings and outcry about the impact of Orleans Street on residential neighborhoods. Sections of the street present a dangerous barrier for elementary school students who attend schools south of it. William Paca Elementary School is on Lakewood Avenue right at the corner of Orleans Street.

There isn’t as much as a speed camera to protect pedestrians from cars and trucks and trailers that speed up and down constantly. There are frequent accidents. It’s yet another product of segregation and redlining that has plagued Baltimore for generations.

Traffic-calming mechanisms can be found along Baltimore Street, and Fayette Street has speed cameras. Those neighborhoods, with a higher proportion of white residents, appear to have been prioritized over us along Orleans Street.

Orleans Street is a barrier that prevents lower-income people and persons of color from accessing public spaces such as the beautiful Patterson Park. We have reached out to Baltimore City Council members and state transportation officials to get some sort of movement on resolving this quality of life and safety issue. Perhaps more news media attention would help us address this inequity.

Fatima Wilkerson, Baltimore

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