Couple seeks to make Route 30 safer for drivers

March 30, 1994|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Contributing Writer

Bryan and Nancy Chaney of Hampstead are campaigning to improve what they consider "a very dangerous" traffic situation on Route 30, just over the Carroll County line near Arcadia.

The Chaneys live on Eve's Way, off Houcksville Road, and must deal with Route 30 to get to work. Mr. Chaney turns south off Bortner Road onto Route 30. Mrs. Chaney must cross Route 30, going from Bortner Road on its west side to Dover Road on its east side.

"We've never been in an accident, but we've had plenty of near misses," Mrs. Chaney said. "You cannot see, no matter what direction you're going. When you get to that intersection, you take a deep breath, say a prayer, step on the gas and hope you make it."

In January, the Chaneys wrote to Charles R. Harrison, district engineer for the State Highway Administration, to detail problems at the intersection of Dover-Bortner and Route 30. Situations they cited:

* Bortner and Dover roads, which are on the south side of a hill, are "completely invisible to southbound Route 30 traffic."

* Motorists who come out of Bortner or Dover roads are unable to see southbound Route 30 traffic.

* Turning left from northbound Route 30 onto Bortner Road, it is impossible to see oncoming Route 30 traffic. The situation is complicated by southbound motorists turning left onto Dover Road.

The Chaneys recommended a short-term solution for the visibility problem: Install convex, wide-angle mirrors on telephone poles on Route 30 north of the intersection.

"Pennsylvania uses mirrors all the time," Mr. Chaney said. "It's a simple, easy fix, something that might work."

But the highway administration has a policy against using mirrors, said Darrell Wiles, assistant district engineer.

"Mirrors represent very incomplete solutions," he said. "They have limited applications; sunlight and moisture can make them totally ineffective; they are subject to vandalism; and the wind pushes them."

The Chaneys suggested flattening the hill just north of the intersection.But Mr. Wiles rejected it as "prohibitively expensive."

"We looked at that a couple of years ago," he said.

Since highway officials received the Chaneys' letter, they have installed advisory signs along Route 30 to inform motorists they should slow down for the intersection.

Mr. Chaney said the signs have not helped.

The feasibility of cutting back the embankment on the northwest corner of Bortner Road also is being studied. A decision is expected in a few weeks, Mr. Wiles said.

"That would give more visibility to those coming out of Bortner and stopping short of Route 30," the engineer said. "[As it is now] the slope restricts visibility of people coming out of Bortner. If it's possible, we'd like to improve that."

The Chaneys, who said they often see accidents or the remains of accidents, contend that more is needed.

But highway officials, while acknowledging that caution is necessary, said the intersection "does not have an extraordinary accident history or rate when you compare the number of accidents vs. the number of people that go through it."

They reported that there were two personal injury accidents and one property damage accident at the intersection in 1990. The next year, the agency recorded three personal injury accidents, and in 1992 reported one personal injury and one property damage accident there.

Officer Robert Deale of the Baltimore County Police Department's Traffic Resource Management Office said the highway administration reported that 20,875 vehicles per day traveled Route 30 between Fowblesburg and Arcadia in 1991.

Other statistics from the office showed that between Jan. 1, 1987, and yesterday, 15 people were injured in 16 accidents at or near the intersection. Six people suffered incapacitating injuries.

The reports indicated that failure to yield was a factor in at least five of the accidents. Speeding or failing to reduce speed contributed to three.

This year, four people have been injured in two accidents at the intersection, compared with three accidents and five personal injuries during all of 1993.

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