Accidents Piling Up At Dangerous Route 2 Intersection

Business Owners Request Traffic Light For 8th Avenue Crossing

September 18, 1991|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff writer

When it comes to traffic accidents at the intersection of Ritchie Highway and 8th Avenue, Nick Delandy figures he's pretty much seen it all.

There's the time a pickup truck hit another car, spun out of control and ended up in Glen Haven Memorial Gardens, wiping out a burial site set up for a funeral later that day.

Then there's the time a motorcycle hit the side of a bus, slid upto the top and back down again.

And there's also the time a car crashed through the parking lot of the building where he works, smashing two cars and a motor home. The driver fled the scene, leaving his car amid a mass of battered vehicles.

"There was gravel all over the place. That was really something," said Delandy. "You'll see everything you ever wanted to see here."

As service adviser at Glen Burnie Automatic Transmission Service, Delandy has seen dozens of accidents during the 10 years he has spent at his desk facing Ritchie Highway and 8th Avenue.

"I've seen as many as three accidents in one day," he said.

In the past 4 1/2 years, 85 accidents have been reported at the intersection, according to county police records -- including 27 in 1990, up from 18 in 1989. So far this year, there have been10 reported accidents.

Although computerized police records, which go back to 1987, show 18 injury accidents at the intersection, no fatalities have been recorded since 1987, police spokesman Officer V. Richard Molloy said.

But employees of businesses facing the intersection insist they have witnessed at least two or three accidents resulting in fatalities over the past 10 years.

Molloy said no records of fatal accidents before 1987 are readily available. He also said state police may have handled a fatal accident, in which case it wouldn't be reflected in county records. However, he does not remember anyone dying as a result of an accident at the intersection.

The majority of accidents occur when cars traveling eastbound on 8th Avenuetry to make a left turn onto northbound Route 2. Cars must cross threelanes of traffic on southbound Route 2 and merge into three lanes ofnorthbound traffic.

Many get hit by southbound cars before they make it half-way across, Delandy said. Others get hit after stopping at the break in the middle and then trying to pull into northbound lanes, he said.

Robert Lynch, vice president of Glen Burnie AutomaticTransmission Service, said he's seen many accidents after cars becomestacked up in the middle of the highway. Cars from Route 2 try to turn left into 8th Avenue and cars from 8th Avenue try to turn left onto Route 2, and they obstruct each others' views.

"Sometimes there's a half-dozen cars piled up in the middle," he said. "They double upin the grass there."

Business owners say a traffic light is needed because 8th Avenue, which is the extension of Dorsey Road, backs upbadly at rush hour. Many large employers, such as Westinghouse, haveemployees that use the route to and from Ritchie highway twice a day.

"When Westinghouse gets out, it's solid lines of traffic" on 8thAvenue, said Lynch. And as people wait longer to get out, they starttaking bigger risks trying to cross Route 2, he said.

Delandy suggested that "no left turn" signs posted at 8th, preventing cars from turning northbound onto Ritchie Highway, might solve most of the problem.

"With the budget crunch being what way it is, that would be the simplest and cheapest cure," he said. "But they've got to do something."

Lawrence Elliott, assistant district engineer for traffic in the county, said the State Highway Administration would be happy tostudy the intersection to see if improvements are needed -- if somebody requested it.

"We've never had any indication there's a problem there," he said. "To my knowledge, we've never received any inquiries about that intersection.

"We average 1,000 to 2,000 inquiries ayear from citizens and probably an equal amount from politicians," he said. "With the number of inquiries we get, we would have no reasonto look at an intersection we've had no complaints about."

SHA also has an internal review system for roads and intersections to identify the most dangerous. Each year, he said, as many as 15,000 intersections are ranked dangerous enough to warrant review.

In District 5 alone, which includes Anne Arundel, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary'scounties, between 30 and 40 intersections turn up for review each year.

A computer program ranks intersections based on the number of collisions, including injury and fatal accidents, compared to the amount of traffic. Therefore, a busy intersection with seemingly a largenumber of accidents might not rank that high because of the level oftraffic.

ON SHA's scale, Ritchie Highway and 8th Avenue ranked 1.07 in 1989, the last year rankings were available, Elliott said. Thisrank indicates "reasonably decent operation," he said.

SHA automatically reviews any intersection with a rank of 1.8 or above.

Mostintersections in the state rank between 0 and 2, he said, although he has seen intersections rank as high as 4 or 5.

Ritchie Highway and Jumpers Hole Road, once considered one of the worst intersections in the county, ranked a 1.02 in 1989. But that was after the state did improvement work there, he said. That intersection has traffic lights.

Ritchie and 8th is not considered a bad intersection by state standards, he said, although a check of other intersections on Ritchie Highway showed it is now among the worst on that stretch of road.

His advice to people who think it's dangerous is to organize and write SHA requesting a thorough review of accidents.

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