Remedying Excedrin Headache 140

January 11, 1995

Two recent announcements augur well for the beleaguered motorists who commute on Route 140. Next summer, the State Highway Administration will begin a $3 million repaving and traffic synchronization project of the heavily traveled road. It also announced that citizens will be asked to participate in a study intended to improve traffic flow.

Resurfacing and patching nearly 10 miles of Route 140 will only marginally accelerate the movement of thousands of cars that head out of Carroll County in the morning and return by evening, but resurfacing will make the ride smoother.

For commuters, the more significant part of the project will be the installation of a new computerized traffic control system that would synchronize traffic signals at six intersections in Westminster.

At present, these signals are on a time clock that doesn't adjust to heavy traffic flows or longer rush hours. Motorists frequently find themselves grinding their teeth as they hit three or four red lights in succession as they drive through Westminster.

The new system is designed to permit a driver who gets a green light to have green lights at approaching intersections. Rather than be set in a fixed schedule dictated by the time of day, the lights will respond to traffic conditions. If rush hour drags on because of an accident or inclement weather, motorists will at least be able to make it through most of Westminster's intersections without stopping.

State highway officials point out that this project will not affect the continuing study of the proposed Westminster bypass.

The conceptual and engineering studies are moving along, but the highway engineers are adding a new and possibly unprecedented twist. They are interested in having an eight- or 10-member citizen focus group "brainstorm" and develop suggestions for improvements to the existing road that may forestall construction of the bypass.

The prospect of highway engineers entertaining ideas from citizens is a welcome development. Often, good ideas surface too late in the design or development process to be useful. It is quite possible proposals offered by the opponents of the bypass have potential. That might result in saving the state a great deal ++ of money and Carroll acres of beautiful countryside.

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