Kala Marie Austin memorial

A wreath in autumn colors is placed next to a vacant house on Mountain Road. It is part of a memorial to Kala Marie Austin, 17, who was killed in a single car accident after loosing control of her car and striking the house on Mountain Road near Pinehurst Road. (Baltimore Sun photo by Kim Hairston / October 21, 2011)

Starkloff said the state managed to get the third lane added largely by sacrificing shoulders rather than acquiring additional land — a solution he conceded wasn't beneficial for bicyclists or pedestrians.

Some residents say the road widening hasn't been entirely positive. Austin calls the middle lane "absolutely terrible" because it confuses drivers. Murphy says many people use it to speed, "so it's just brought on new problems."

Kipke said his constituents like the middle lane because it has improved traffic flow on the road significantly. "There's overwhelming support for the third lane because they know how bad it was before," he said.

Kipke said he has leaned on state highway officials to continue to make changes on Mountain Road and that he will continue to do so. But he said it won't be easy without more land and a lot of money.

"If we're going to improve the situation, we're going to have to buy property from literally hundreds of people," he said. Removing utility poles and trees to create buffer zones could cost more than $100 million, he added.

"There has never been support from the people in the peninsula to do that," he said.

Kipke said he does want to see the building Kala crashed into razed. Like her mother, he considers it a hazard. Starkloff said the highway agency would consider such a move.

The SHA engineer said another possible approach would be to launch a "corridor study" that would look at all aspects of traffic flow along Mountain Road and involve local residents in the decision-making process.

Donna Austin said she would welcome such an effort. She now works in the executive offices of the state transportation department, where she deals with high-ranking officials, including Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley. She said that when she returns to work, she intends to tell people about the dangers of Mountain Road.

"I'm going to start from the top," she said.