State roads agency dismisses bid for traffic signal at Aberdeen intersection

November 07, 1993|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Staff Writer

State Highway Administration officials say they have no plans to install a traffic signal at an Aberdeen intersection where two fatal accidents occurred within a month.

Charles Harrison, SHA district engineer for Harford and Baltimore counties, said Thursday that despite the summer accidents, in which three people died, the intersection of state routes 7 and 715 "does not warrant a traffic signal."

In fact, he said, installing a light could create more problems than it solved.

Mr. Harrison addressed that issue and others in a meeting of state transportation officials and the Harford County delegation to the state legislature.

County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, County Council members, representatives of the county's three municipalities and residents attended the annual update on state transportation projects in the county.

Mr. Harrison said the low-accident history of the Aberdeen intersection, the relatively low volume of traffic there and the geometrics of the roadway -- all factors to be considered in installing new signals -- do not support the need for a traffic light.

Three women were killed and a fourth was critically injured in two accidents at the intersection this summer.

On July 31, Kelli Renee Newby, an 18-year-old bride-to-be, and her sister-in-law, Janet Devonshire Newby, were killed on the morning of the wedding when they attempted to turn left onto Route 715 while northbound on Route 7 and were struck by a dump truck.

A similar accident occurred Aug. 31, when Suzanne Hassenbusch, also northbound on the two-lane Route 7, failed to yield the right of way to a dump truck traveling west on Route 715, a four-lane, divided highway. Mrs. Hassenbusch was seriously injured and her daughter Pamela was killed.

The similarity of the accidents sparked concern among residents and led the State Highway Administration in September to review the intersection, which is near the entrance to the Aberdeen Proving Ground and several industrial parks in the Perryman-Aberdeen area.

But Mr. Harrison said Thursday that the review revealed that visibility is clear for at least 500 feet in both directions of Route 715 and that while traffic into APG is heavy in the morning, "the balance of the day has very little volume."

He said the accidents at the intersection -- 10 since 1988 -- have shown no pattern, and only half of them involved personal injury. The three deaths last summer were the only fatalities.

"It was a tragic coincidence, but the fact is there really hasn't been a specific problem there in the last five or six years," said Mr. Harrison.

He added that putting a signal at routes 7 and 715 could cause a backup of traffic from eastbound Route 715 onto U.S. 40 north and south, "which would create a more unsafe situation."

Since last summer, the highway administration has added signs on Route 7 warning drivers of a divided highway ahead, and wrong-way signs have been posted in the median of Route 715 as an additional warning of oncoming traffic.

On another topic Thursday, MTA administrator John Agro said the state would like to increase MARC train service in Harford County next year. He said that the Mass Transit Administration would begin discussions with Amtrak in January about establishing midday service by MARC trains from Perryville to Union Station in Washington and back.

"This will give people the opportunity for a midday return to Harford County," he said. He added that landscaping at the RTC Edgewood MARC station would be complete by early next year and that improved lighting and parking there would be done by spring.

Ms. Rehrmann told the highway officials that Harford and Baltimore County officials agree that intercounty transportation should be a priority of public transportation planners.

She said Harford is particularly interested in intercounty bus service between Bel Air and Towson for the growing number of Harford countians who work in Hunt Valley and other areas of northern Baltimore County.

"The back roads to Towson are already at capacity," she said. "There are no easy answers to that cross-county traffic. But that's why buses are so important."

She also asked that more park-and-ride lots be established, particularly in the north county area. There currently are three park-and-ride bus lines in the county, originating in Brierhill, Rock Spring and Havre de Grace.

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