Alternative to closed exit ramp lane backed Residents' goal is easing traffic

October 22, 1993|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Staff Writer

Savage residents, angered by the closing of part of a Route 32 exit ramp, favor an alternative that was originally proposed by a State Highway Administration official.

Wayne Clingan, a district engineer who died nine months ago, had suggested that trucks seeking access to the Savage Industrial Park be required to use the Dorsey Run Road exit to the east of U.S. 1 rather than the Route 32-U.S. 1 exit.

Instead, on July 30, in hopes of reducing accidents, the state closed a 100-foot strip of roadway off the eastbound lanes of Route 32 onto southbound U.S. 1, which motorists had used as a merging lane.

In the monthly newsletter of the Savage Community Association, released this week, members backed Mr. Clingan's original plan as a way of eliminating traffic created by closing the lane.

They plan to present the recommendation to the State Highway Administration at a community meeting Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Carroll Baldwin Hall in Savage.

"To me, it's a much easier way [for trucks] to get into the industrial park," said Bill Waff, president of the community association.

Originally, the now-closed strip of roadway let motorists bypass a stop sign at the end of the Route 32 exit ramp onto U.S. 1.

The Highway Administration decided the bypass was a hazard, saying motorists using the merging lane sometimes rear-ended vehicles stopped at the Howard Street traffic light a few hundred feet south of the ramp.

Because of the changed traffic pattern, motorists exiting eastbound Route 32 into Savage now must stop at the sign before moving onto U.S. 1. That means they also must sit behind tractor-trailer trucks stopped at the sign and waiting to cross U.S. 1 to get into the city industrial park.

If trucks use the Dorsey Run Road exit farther east, as the community group is proposing, it would add about a mile and a half to their trip, requiring them to double back to the industrial park.

Mr. Waff said that would be safer for trucks because they wouldn't have to cross any busy roads, as they do at the Route 32-U.S. 1 exit.

County Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, who represents Savage, said the alternative is what Mr. Clingan intended all along but that "it's not clear to me that it was in writing."

Ms. Pendergrass said she spoke with Mr. Clingan more than two years ago about sending the trucks to the Dorsey Run exit, then under construction. She has urged state officials to adopt that plan and reopen the merging lane.

Highway officials say they are considering those changes because of residents' complaints. But they also say they heard about Mr. Clingan's proposal only through Ms. Pendergrass.

"We don't have any record of it on our files," said Gene Straub, a Highway Administration assistant district engineer. "We're not ready to make a decision yet, but it is something we're looking at."

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