Firefighters seek Main Street traffic light Union Bridge intersection slows emergency vehicles

March 04, 1997|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Union Bridge volunteer firefighters, who say they have had several near collisions turning the engine from Locust Street onto South Main Street, are asking the State Highway Administration for a traffic light.

The SHA hopes to have an answer for the fire company early this month, said John Concannon, assistant district engineer for traffic. The agency is studying sight distance and traffic delays at the intersection to determine whether a signal is needed. Main Street is a state highway, Route 75.

"It's a rather scary situation, especially at peak volume between 3 and 5 p.m.," said Jim Harris, a spokesman for the Fire Department. He said some motorists try to race the fire engine as it turns onto Main Street, increasing the chance of a collision.

"I'm not saying it's all discourteous drivers, because the way that intersection lies, with houses up close, they may have the radio on and not hear the siren till they get right up on the intersection," Harris said. But some drivers continue trying to beat the engine through the intersection, he said.

Fire and ambulance drivers used the Locust and Main Street intersection on about 75 percent of calls in the first 11 months of 1996, Harris reported.

Fire company representatives say they would be happy with a traffic light or a flashing signal that is activated only when fire equipment leaves the station. Reese Volunteer Fire Co. has a flashing signal at its station on Route 140 east of Westminster.

The Union Bridge company had a hand-activated traffic signal at its former station at South Benedum Street and Broadway, fire company member Earl Fritz recalled. The company moved to its station on South Locust Street in 1967.

Firefighters say traffic has made the turn onto Main Street difficult for 30 years. But the fire company pursued a light only in the past several years. Two factors changed, Harris said. A couple who had volunteered to direct traffic at the intersection was available less often, and Mayor Perry L. Jones agreed to help acquire a traffic signal.

Jones is encouraged by the response to his written request. "I've been talking to the state highway [administration]about two or three years and this is the closest we've ever gotten [to a signal]," he said. "I guess they had other things that were more pressing."

The Union Bridge company responded to 451 ambulance calls and 361 fire calls in 1996.

Pub Date: 3/04/97

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