Readers pick spots for driving disasters


April 16, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LAST WEEK, I asked for your nominations for the dubious distinction of being the worst place to drive in Howard County. Here are your picks:

Joe Jackson of Ellicott City dreads driving the stretch of Route 103 between Long Gate Parkway and U.S. 29, which "has become a complete disaster in the last couple of years," he says. "The ramp from Route 100 east to U.S. 29 north backs up, and people think they can take Long Gate Parkway to Route 103, and get back on U.S. 29. Unfortunately, due to the layout of Route 103 and the fact that the ramp from Route 103 to U.S. 29 is just as backed up, Route 103 becomes clogged. People to try to enter the right-hand ramp to U.S. 29 from the left lane of Route 103, resulting in a lot of panic braking from the people already in the correct lane.

"How can the county fix this? Maybe U.S. 29 needs another lane to get traffic flowing smoother from Route 100. Maybe Long Gate Parkway should only have a single left-turn lane onto Route 103, rather than two, which is part of the cause of all the jockeying when Route 103 hits U.S. 29. Maybe the police can sit along this road and write a few thousand dollars' worth of tickets for a couple of weeks to show that the jockeying and exiting to the right from the left lane won't be tolerated."

The other side of Route 103 has attracted attention as well. The exit ramp from Route 103 to Route 100 east, which turns into an exit-only lane from Route 100 to Interstate 95 south, raises Andy Levine's blood pressure each morning. "Everyone strings out the on-ramp as long as possible and then slams on their brakes to get over into the traffic on 100 before they're forced to exit off of 100 again," he says. "Meanwhile, what should be a clear shot for me to get to I-95 south is clogged with these fine motorists."

"One of the worst intersections occurs when traveling west on Farewell Road in Oakland Mills and then trying to turn left onto Stevens Forest Road, which has a median," says Skip MacAfee, who lives in Columbia. "It's difficult to get across to the far lane with cars running swiftly over and down the hill to the right."

Former Scaggsville resident Jackie Duda weighs in about Route 216 west, where Lime Kiln Road and Murphy Road converge onto Route 216 in the vicinity of St. Paul's Lutheran Church. "While driving on 216 toward Fulton, drivers need to watch out for emerging traffic from Lime Kiln and Murphy," she says. "During busy traffic times, cars tend to dart out of these two streets without so much as a glance in the direction of oncoming traffic."

Ellicott City resident Leslie Nissenberg nominates New Cut Road. "I love the road - it's so scenic," she says. "But it can be precarious with joggers, walkers with dogs, curvy sections of the road and poor visibility."

"I vote for the intersection of Ten Oaks Road and Brighton Dam Road," says Gwyn Ingley-Smith of Clarksville. "There is a yield sign for drivers entering Ten Oaks from Brighton Dam, and for left-turners from Ten Oaks onto Brighton Dam; but, you guessed it - these are frequently ignored and many an accident has happened there. The county cannot fix this mess too soon!"

Dave Townsend of Columbia has had bad experiences at the intersection of Route 108, Beaverbrook Road and Centennial Lane (at the entrance to the Beaverbrook development) and says it needs official attention.

"The problem is that eastbound traffic tends to cut off the curve of what is admittedly an awkward swing on Route 108 heading east," he says. "Anyone who routinely makes a left-hand turn into Beaverbrook Road has had a vehicle heading east with some of the oncoming vehicles over the line in the turn lane. The most dangerous time is during a slow-traffic period when you are approaching the intersection to turn left into Beaverbrook and a vehicle already is traveling 40 to 50 mph heading east. Just last week, I was in that situation and a vehicle heading east was entirely in my turn lane."

Townsend avoided a head-on collision by slamming on the brakes and honking at the offending driver. "The eastbound vehicle made an abrupt right to get back in the correct lane. Luckily, no traffic was close behind me or the other vehicle, so it was uneventful, but it's only a matter of time," he says.

What's your driving dilemma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at Technophobes can mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 300, Columbia 21044, or fax 410-715-2816.

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