Main Street intersection to be redone Three roads meet near W. Md. College, confusing motorists

'Traffic will flow'

Project set to begin in Aug.

4 others also planned on west side

October 29, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

A convoluted Westminster intersection, where two roads converge at West Main Street, is scheduled for a makeover by the State Highway Administration.

Reconstruction of the intersection of Uniontown Road, Old New Windsor Road and West Main Street is one of five planned projects aimed at making driving easier on the city's west side. Three projects will be completed by about 2002. Timing of the remaining two will depend on developers' schedules.

Two projects were initiated by the city and the state, but Westminster planners have also required developers to make road improvements that will make access to Routes 31 and 140 easier.

"I think at the end traffic will flow, and improvements will be done that would not otherwise have been done," said Thomas B. Beyard, city planning and public works director.

The highway administration plans to begin work at the intersection in August. The work is part of a project to reconstruct West Main Street from Pennsylvania Avenue to Route 31.

Residents, local businesses, the highway administration and city officials formed a study committee that wrestled for 2 1/2 years over a solution for the confusing intersection, Beyard said.

The confusion comes as Uniontown and Old New Windsor converge on West Main Street to create a triangular intersection. The traffic pattern is complicated because West Main street forks just southeast of the intersection.

Surveys show that three of four drivers using the intersection travel on Uniontown Road, Beyard said.

"It was recognized that this intersection is very confusing, and there should be a well-thought-out plan," he said.

The committee's solution, which has been approved by the Westminster Common Council, will make Uniontown Road the main thoroughfare, closing a portion of West Main Street where the street now forks.

Motorists who want to continue west on West Main Street will bear right opposite the existing intersection of Old New Windsor, then bear left on West Main.

The change will make it easier for traffic to move through the intersection, said Robert Fisher, SHA district engineer for Carroll and Frederick counties.

"Right now it's so difficult to get any kind of traffic movement channelized because of the angles," he said.

The project is expected to reduce traffic on the section of West Main Street that crosses the Western Maryland College campus, but Ethan Seidel, vice president for administration and finance, said college officials weren't pressing for a traffic reduction.

"It was not an issue with the college," Seidel said. "The college is OK with it, but it's not a problem either way."

He said plans to flatten the crown of the hill slightly will make the street safer for drivers and pedestrians.

Highway administration engineers estimate the cost of the .7-mile West Main Street reconstruction project at $1.4 million. Ownership of the street is to be turned over to the city after the work is finished.

Westminster will follow the West Main Street project with a reconstruction of Uniontown Road from the intersection to Route 31, probably in 2000 or 2001, Beyard said. The city has begun budgeting money for engineering and right-of-way acquisition for the .2-mile project, expected to cost about $1 million.

The other projects:

Closing the intersection of West Main Street and Route 140, widening Route 140 to the Route 31 intersection and installing a traffic signal at WMC Drive and Route 140. West Main Street traffic will be channeled to WMC Drive, where drivers will be able to turn on Route 140.

The project, scheduled to be completed by late spring, will be constructed by Black Rock Associates Inc. The developer is building College Square, an $8 million shopping center that will house a Safeway supermarket and smaller stores on 10 acres between Routes 140 and 31.

Much work was involved in planning the project, but "we feel it's HTC worth it because there were no state improvements planned for 140 west of 97," Beyard said.

Striping to create left-turn lanes onto Route 31 and through lanes at Westminster Veterinary Hospital, 269 W. Main St., to be completed by the owner, veterinarian Douglas T. Chilcoat, in conjunction with a planned animal hospital on the property.

Striping to create left-turn lanes and through lanes for eastbound traffic on Uniontown Road at Route 31, to be completed as part of Stoneridge Overlook, a planned subdivision on 45 acres, the last tract within the city limits where cattle graze.

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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