Drivers, don't forget to clear the hood of your vehicle, too


January 21, 2003|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NORTH LAUREL'S Mark Simpson said he was pleased to see my comments in last week's column about the need to clear snow and ice from all the windows of a vehicle before driving away. However, he said, "Your suggestion to clear the roof of the vehicle was also good, but not complete."

There's no pleasing you, is there?

"Not only the roof, but the hood also needs to be clear of snow and ice that could (and will) blow off and obstruct your view while in motion. And just as important is clearing the headlights and taillights. After sweeping the roof and hood, make sure the lights are clear so that other drivers can see you. This is especially important when the weather is gloomy, the roads are less than perfect and everyone needs a little extra time to detect the other vehicles out there," he said.

He noted that during the recent snows his wife "tried to help" by clearing the snow from two SUVs parked at the curb in the pickup zone of a local grocery.

"One of the drivers cursed her for touching his vehicle. When the other one was told that his headlights were covered, he responded, `That's OK, I'll turn them off!' I hope Darwinism can eliminate these fools without harming any innocent bystanders," he said.

Now, now, Mr. Simpson. I'm no fan of those oversized gas-guzzling SUVs, but please ask your wife, for her own safety and clean arrest record, not to touch other people's vehicles! Someone discovering her touching his or her car even in a "helpful" mode might not assume she has their best interests at heart.

Still, I agree with you and your wife. Even SUV owners need to take responsibility for clearing off their vehicles properly before hitting the road.

Sound barrier

Marcos Ocadiz, who lives in Ellicott City, asked me to "shed a little light on the sound barrier that is supposed to be under construction on U.S. 29 and St. John's Lane exit." He notes that traffic on U.S. 29 "is noisy day in and day out and all through the night."

The sound barrier will go up between a point just south of Frederick Road and just south of Route 100 along southbound U.S. 29. The bad news: You have to wait at least a year until it is complete.

The sound barrier was planned as part of the overall widening project that is in progress. The barrier is in the process of being bid out, with a prospective construction start date in April. It will take about 10 months to complete.

So why has it taken so long?

"There would have been two different contractors on the site at the same time" with competing needs for lane closures and traffic movement, according to Lora Rakowski, a spokeswoman for SHA. For the past year, "We thought it would better serve the motoring public to just have one project at a time along that stretch," she said. Although the southbound side "is largely finished," the rest of the project will not be completed until this fall.

New I-70 ramp opening

The new ramp from northbound U.S. 29 to westbound Interstate 70 is scheduled to open today.

It provides another way for motorists on northbound U.S. 29 to get onto I-70 west by making a left-hand exit just north of the I-70 overpass. One of the goals of this project is to reduce lane weaving by motorists trying to exit to I-70 west.

Traffic pattern changes will also take effect along U.S. 29 south between the eastbound and westbound I-70 ramps. U.S. 29 south will be reduced to one through lane south of the I-70 overpass to allow for a dedicated lane for traffic merging onto southbound U.S. 29 from I-70 east.

Folks, this is part of the overall improvements being made to U.S. 29, which include the upgrade of northbound and southbound lanes with an additional travel lane in each direction between U.S. 40 and Route 100, as well as resurfacing, landscaping, striping, signs and the sound barrier. Associated work includes a new pavement overlay along U.S. 29 and Route 100 with drainage improvements, new guardrail and stream restoration.

Happy driving!

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at, 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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