State officials say the intersection of Routes 136 and 440 in Dublin won't be improved for at least two years, despite claims by a Darlington church group that the intersection is unsafe and needs immediate attention.
Members of the Darlington United Methodist Church are calling for the improvements after two senior citizens died and five others were injured in an automobile accident at the intersection May 1.
"The concern of many people is that the sight distance at the intersection is poor," said the Rev. Darryl C. Zoller, pastor of the Darlington church and the Rock Run United Methodist church.
Motorists, particularly those traveling east on the two-lane Route 440, have a difficult time seeing traffic on Route 136, which also has two lanes, Zoller said. A building and parked vehicles get in the way of motorist's views, the minister said.
Some drivers using Route 440, after stopping at a stop sign, dart into the path of on-coming traffic because they can't see vehicles coming along two curves just beyond Moody's General Store and the Dublin Market parking lot, the minister said.
Charles R. Harrison, district engineer for the state Highway Administration, acknowledged that the intersection needs improvements. But he said such improvements won't have a chance of getting funding until the 1993 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 1992.
"We don't have anything currently scheduled to improve the intersection," Harrison said. "That project would have to compete with a number of other projects in Harford County."
The state is working with a consultant to redesign the intersection, Harrison said. One of the new configurations, he said, calls for Route 136 to be moved eastward, away from businesses.
Although a proposed redesign of the intersection is near completion, Harrison said, funding is another story.
With the state already in fiscal year 1991, officials are putting together the budget for 1992. The state has already picked the road projects for 1992, Harrison said. The Routes 136-440 intersection is not one of them.
Despite the poor configuration of the intersection, Harrison said the state has not received many complaints about it.
But Zoller, the Darlington church's administrative board, and members of the Gadabouts, a senior citizens group affiliated with the church, think improvements should be made to prevent another accident like the one in May.
In that accident, Iona Pierce and Casimier Szymanowicz, both 72 and both of Darlington, died when the county operated senior citizens van they were riding in was struck by a pick-up truck.
The van was traveling east on Route 440 when its driver, Leilonie T.
Baer of Bel Air, stopped at the stop sign and then proceeded through the intersection, an accident report filed by the state police said.
As the van was going through the intersection, it was struck on the side by the pickup.
Baer, who plead guilty to a charge of negligent driving in the accident, told police that she did not see the pickup when she stopped at the intersection, the report said.
Martha S. Bodycombe, a 79-year-old Darlington woman who was a passenger in the van at the time of the accident, says constant pains in her leg serve as a reminder of the accident.
As a result of the accident, Bodycombe spent a total of six weeks in two hospitals to recover from the injuries she received in the accident. She suffered a broken leg and ribs, among other injuries.
"I don't want any more accidents," she said. "It is a terrible crossroad."