Making Route 140 Safer

May 02, 1994

Why did it take a triple-fatal car collision last month for the State Highway Administration finally to do something about the traffic problems on Route 140 in northwestern Baltimore County, just east of the Carroll County line?

An SHA spokesman says the rural highway's 113 accidents per 100 million vehicle miles is below the norm for similar Maryland roads. Yet the fact remains that the hilly 2.1-mile stretch of Route 140 between Interstate 795 and the Carroll boundary -- an increasingly traveled road for cross-county commuters -- has averaged an accident about every two weeks since 1987. The upshot has been a total of 191 injuries and five deaths. These statistics indicate that solutions to the road's problems should have been plotted and put in place long ago.

Local residents say the road was dangerous even before Interstate 795 was completed eight years ago. Route 140 has only gotten worse since, for various reasons. Lead-footed drivers come flying off I-795 and maintain their high speeds as they barrel west toward Carroll. The volume of traffic has increased as new developments have arisen along the road (and continue to emerge). Wal-Mart's plan to build a store in nearby Owings Mills portends even more traffic on Route 140.

A lot of the traffic from area communities might have been relieved by connector and service roads built when the homes went up. But that's assuming too much foresight on the part of the private and public interests responsible for such developments. Nonetheless, the SHA hints it might include feeder roads in its plans to improve Route 140.

That's long-term. For the more immediate future, the state highway staff has proposed a Jersey barrier down the middle of a half-mile section of Route 140, which would help prevent the sort of head-on collision that killed three people on a rainy April 13 evening; signal lights at Brian Daniel Drive and Gores Mill Road; a lowering of the speed limit from 55 to 50 mph between I-795 and Carroll County; a prohibition against left turns from Nob Hill Park Drive onto Route 140, and a "jug handle" at Lauren Court to make possible an eastward turn for drivers coming out of Nob Hill Park Drive. This month, the SHA will hold a public discussion of these proposals. Overdue though they are, they signify a significant turn toward a safer Route 140.

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