Careless drivers also make U.S. 40 a danger

TRAFFIC TALK

September 10, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ELLICOTT CITY'S David Towle, who believes that "next to the weather, traffic is the best thing to gripe about," responds to comments made in last week's column about the dual right of way at signaled intersections on U.S. 40:

"I know what George Spence means. In addition to the problems caused by the dual right-of-way arrangement there is another, and also potentially dangerous, situation at the Ridge Road/U.S. 40 intersection. However, this one is caused by drivers, not the traffic signals.

"The eastbound ramp from U.S. 40 has two lanes. The right lane is marked to permit turns onto the northern portion of Ridge Road only and the left is marked to permit turns onto Ridge Road (north) and U-turns onto U.S. 40 west. Despite the signs/markings, I have had numerous `close calls' there when I was in the left lane headed for Ridge Road, and someone in the right lane attempted to make a left or U-turn onto U.S. 40 west! After all, isn't it logical to make left-hand turns from right-hand lanes? Apparently some drivers think so."

St. John's Lane

Now, let's talk about St. John's Lane. One reader has sympathy for the residents who live off that much-maligned road.

"It is with a great deal of amusement that I have been following the concerns of readers over the traffic reconfiguration of the intersection of St. John's Lane and Dunloggin Road," said Donna Gozik, who lives on Sand Hill Road, which runs between Routes 99 and 144. The road also borders Crestlawn Cemetery in Marriottsville. She notes there is a new development of large homes going up at Sand Hill and Mount View, the other road that borders the cemetery.

"As I was leaving for the market one day last summer, I noticed a crew working on the entrance of the housing development, which is directly across the street from the entrance to the cemetery. By late afternoon, there was a full-blown traffic circle at Sand Hill and Mount View. After many calls, we found out that the builders of the housing development had installed the circle with county permission.

"If it were a circle with straight converging roads, like the one at Ten Oaks Road, it would probably be OK, but they reconfigured the road and put in little islands, making it very hard for large (and small) vehicles to pass through.

"As this is not a very heavily traveled road, and to our knowledge, this was done with no traffic studies, I have to laugh every time I see a construction truck backing down Sand Hill or a funeral procession detouring to the Route 99 end of Mount View because they cannot negotiate the circle.

"We were also told that the builder did this to slow down traffic on Sand Hill. The road between Route 99 and the circle is now perfect for anyone who wants to test out his speed and/or braking capabilities. The large ruts in the islands are now growing a new crop of weeds until the next large vehicle takes a chunk out of it.

"I've been through the intersection of St. John's Lane and Dunloggin Road many times since it has changed, and I feel for the residents. There has to be a better way of planning these things and maybe a better way of notifying the residents about what exactly is planned for the neighborhood," she said.

I'm curious. Does anyone think the changes to St. John's Lane improve the road's safety?

Route 103 intersection

Charlotte Ann Smith's concern is the intersection of Route 103, Old Columbia Pike and U.S. 29. Smith, who lives in the Mount Hebron area of Ellicott City, frequently shops in the Long Gate Shopping Center off Route 103.

"As traffic traveling west on 103 approaches U.S. 29, it has the choice of two right turns, first onto Old Columbia Pike, then immediately thereafter onto U.S. 29 north. A single right-turn arrow indicates both turns, and people familiar with the intersection position themselves in the right lane for either turn. However, those unfamiliar with the area often interpret the arrow as representing only Old Columbia Pike, thinking they will then be able to get into the right-turn lane for U.S. 29 north.

"On a number of occasions, I have seen drivers attempting to get onto U.S. 29 north veer dangerously in front of cars, which had not made that first turn onto Old Columbia Pike as expected."

Smith proposes a simple solution: The county should place "an overhead sign indicating that drivers should get into the right lane for both turns and paint double arrows on the road to indicate not one, but two turns [are made] from the right-hand lane."

Work on Route 175

If you travel on Route 175 between Anne Arundel County and U.S. 1 at night, you've probably noticed the construction work last week. The pavement was milled in preparation for repaving. The road will be paved through Sept. 20. Expect delays, so look for alternate routes between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net or send faxes to 410-715-2816. Technophobes can mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 300, Columbia 21044.

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