Yet more complaints about risky roadways

TRAFFIC TALK

April 23, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

YOU KEEP coming up with horrible places to drive in Howard County. Here are some more of your picks.

Jim Maguire of Pikesville picks U.S. 29, between U.S. 40 and Route 100. This stretch - southbound in the morning, northbound in the evening - is particularly bad. Why? "There is so much traffic merging in such a short stretch of highway," Maguire says. But he thinks there could be some simple solutions to the problem.

He suggests slowing down the "upstream" traffic by activating flashing lights on the speed-limit signs on U.S. 29, approaching the congested area. "You're going to come to a complete stop anyway," he says. "Why not approach at 35 to 45 mph, instead of at 70? There's much less chance of a severe accident. Or, just have signs announcing that the speed limit is lower during rush hour."

Another driving disaster comes from Tammy Reid of Elkridge. "I have to nominate Route 1 in Elkridge," she says, noting the intersection of Ducketts Lane. "People coming out there cannot see over the hill," she says. She also would like to see a dedicated left-turn lane for turns into the Elkridge Corners shopping center.

Last week, Andy Levine complained about the exit ramp from Route 103 to Route 100 east, which turns into an exit-only lane from Route 100 to Interstate 95 south. "Everyone strings out the onramp 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 said.

Glenn Hoge, also of Ellicott City, offers another perspective on the problem. "The reader who complained about these drivers not getting out of the exit-only lane is blaming the wrong people," Hoge says. "It's not that the drivers don't want to merge, it's that the people already in the through lanes won't let them in." Hoge suggests extending the exit lane across the bridge and make it exit-only onto northbound I-95. "That way, people trying to go north toward Baltimore would have that lane available to them, instead of having to squeeze over, only to have to almost immediately exit. Why it is that the highway engineers couldn't have foreseen this problem when they designed Route 100 is beyond me," he says.

Work on I-95

With warmer weather, of course, comes roadwork. Look for construction on I-95. The State Highway Administration is beginning a $6.8 million construction project to improve 10 bridges along six miles of that key artery between Route 32 in Howard County and Route 198 in Prince George's County. Fingers crossed and weather permitting, the project will be completed this fall.

SHA is improving the surfaces with a concrete latex surface so they won't knock out your car's alignment. In addition to resurfacing, SHA will replace guardrail and guardrail end treatments, improve roadway shoulders and install rumble strips. Look for work on these bridges:

I-95 ramp "A" over Route 732 (Great Star Drive), from Route 32 west to I-95 north;

I-95 north over Route 732;

I-95 north over Route 32 east;

I-95 north and south over the Little Patuxent River;

I-95 north and south over the Middle Patuxent River;

I-95 north and south over the Patuxent River;

I-95 ramp "B" over I-95, from Route 198 west to I-95 south.

All this construction brings another thought to mind. Work zones can be dangerous - not only for workers, but also for drivers and the passengers who dare to drive with them. Real people are working in these zones, and they go home (or hope to) to real families. Don't risk their lives just because you're running a few minutes late.

According to SHA, 15 people died and more than 1,600 people were injured in work zone-related crashes in Maryland last year. If concern for your fellow human beings isn't your primary motivator, then there is this: The majority of the injuries were to motorists. So "slow down, stay alert and exercise caution," admonishes SHA spokeswoman Lora Rokowski.

Roadwork Web site

To learn which lanes will be closed, when, and for how long, go to www.chart.state.md.us or link to it from SHA's Web site (www.marylandroads.com) by clicking on the traffic information/live traffic camera icon. Updated daily, this is a great resource, not just for I-95, but for SHA construction throughout Maryland. On this Web site, you can learn the locations of highway work zones, and plan ahead for trips, and, if necessary, plan to allow extra travel time or choose an alternate route.

What's your driving dilemma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net. 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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