Revamping of intersections on Littlestown Pike studied Road connections on 2-mile stretch unsafe, official says

July 02, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

It never was designed for heavy traffic, but studies show that a stretch of Littlestown Pike just north of Westminster carries too many vehicles through too many inadequate intersections -- with sometimes fatal results.

As a result, Carroll County wants to make changes along this 2-mile section of Route 97, said J. Michael Evans, director of the Department of Public Works.

The study area runs from the ramp off Route 140 and Krider's Church Road north to Bachman's Valley Road.

"We'd like to close some dangerous intersections and bring people out on a safer intersection," Evans said. The state would have to make any changes along Route 97 itself, but the county could close off and build its own feeder roads.

The intersections being studied include those with Krider's Church, Old Bachman's Valley, Old Meadow Branch, Pleasant Valley and Kalten roads.

The ideas are all preliminary, Evans said, so there are no timetables or price tags attached to the list.

Current thinking would eliminate three of the intersections -- Krider's Church, Old Bachman's Valley and Pleasant Valley -- rerouting traffic on to roads that have better entry to Route 97, and improve others with signals and left-turn lanes.

"These are complex problems, because it's an industrial development area," Evans said. State traffic studies and a state police check found that "speed wasn't a problem during rush hour. Volume is."

"Krider's Church is a very old-timey road that turns to dirt or gravel soon after you get on it," Evans said.

But congestion is heavy at Route 97, he said, where parents drop off children at several schools and the ARC of Carroll County has small buses pulling in and out.

"So there's a lot of traffic right in that small area, equivalent to two city blocks," Evans said.

For anyone turning left, he said, "it's difficult to see southbound traffic. Fortunately, most of them are turning right. That's probably why we don't have fatalities there."

Krider's Church Road would dead-end before Route 97 and be relocated to connect with New Meadow Branch Road, which has "a good, clean, square intersection," Evans said.

Similarly, Old Bachman's Valley Road would be closed off and traffic rerouted to the new Magna Road, now under construction opposite Airport Drive.

Now, Evans said, Old Bachman's Valley Road approaches Route 97 at a 120-degree angle.

"So you're making a really hard right on to 97, or, coming off of it, a really hard left," he said.

Old Meadow Branch Road heads to the county government maintenance center, where a county employee was killed trying to turn left from northbound Route 97, he said.

"We'd like to see the state help, with a signal or by redirecting traffic with a better left turn lane and room to pass," Evans said. "Now, you have to pull around the shoulder."

With Old Meadow Branch Road improved, he said, Pleasant Valley Road could be dead-ended at Route 97 and rerouted south across county-owned land to connect to it.

Using a new Pleasant Valley Road would give residents of Kalten Acres "the ability to come to a square intersection where they could make a right or left on 97 easily," Evans said.

A child whose family was trying to enter Route 97 from Pleasant Valley Road was killed recently, and there have been numerous accidents at Kalten Road as vehicles attempting to turn left are rear-ended. A jogger was killed and another seriously injured last year about 500 feet from the Pleasant Valley Road intersection.

At Kalten Road, the state police found the shoulder so narrow that they couldn't pull anyone over for speeding, Evans said. TTC That intersection would remain open under the preliminary plans but would be improved.

Pub Date: 7/02/96

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