Nine dreaded places to drive in Howard

TRAFFIC TALK

October 05, 2004|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AS I travel Howard County's highways and byways, I've come to realize that there are stretches of highway and intersections that I dread driving. Whether the culprit is one of Maryland's own breed of moronic motorists or just poor design, here's my pick for nine dreaded places to drive:

1. All of Howard County's section of U.S. 1, but especially "dead man's curve" north of Montgomery Road and Bonnie View Lane in Elkridge. It is too narrow, too crowded, too many vehicles are turning on or off of it, and too many parts of the road are in bad shape.

2. The Route 32 westbound exit ramp to Interstate 95 southbound. It is a left-lane entrance, but too often, cars creep down the ramp and attempt to enter the busy interstate at appallingly slow speeds. The posted speed limit is 65 mph there, folks, and the prevailing speed is often higher.

And while I'm discussing that entrance ramp, if you're traveling down I-95 and encounter a truck entering there, give the trucker a chance to get over a lane or two.

But I've seen impatient drivers pass on the right of a trucker, usually in the truck's blind spots, effectively preventing the truck from moving to the right, where it belongs. It is unfair to truckers and dangerous to other drivers on the road.

3. Any of Maryland's traffic circles when other drivers in them or about to enter them are clearly clueless about what to do. Yield to motorists in the circle, and if you're in the circle, don't wave in waiting drivers in front of you. Just go. They will enter behind you, the way they are supposed to. Don't let misguided courtesy create an unnecessarily dangerous situation.

4. The left-turn exit from northbound U.S. 29 onto westbound I-70. I don't mind this intersection, but it should be included because clearly I seem to be the only one who does not mind driving it. Popular opinion is that it is dangerous, causes near-misses and backs up traffic on U.S. 29.

5. The intersection of Guilford Road and U.S. 1. Contributing to the mess here is the Route 32 junction just south of the intersection. Lots of trucks, lots of cars, a narrow road and too many cars perpetually waiting, it seems, to make a left from U.S. 1 northbound onto Guilford Road make this a very dangerous intersection.

6. Any one-lane road during rush hour. As Jon Merryman said, "I'm sure to have an annoyed tailgater on my rear bumper before you can say `back off, Jack.' " I try to stay off the roads during rush hours, but for nine-to-fivers, there's no choice but to deal with misbehaving motorists.

7. Route 32 between Route 108 and I-70. As one of Howard County's most congested stretches, it is long overdue for more lanes to handle traffic safely. And the accident statistics consistently through the years for this stretch tell the same story.

8. From River's Edge onto northbound U.S. 29 to get to Route 32 eastbound. As Lisa Schwartz noted, "You make a left onto 29, but then have to immediately get to the right to get onto 32 east.

"There have been a few times when I just couldn't make it. I've had to go past and double back. If you live in that community and have to go that way every time, it must be a nightmare."

9. Little Patuxent Parkway between The Mall in Columbia and where it turns into Route 175 at U.S. 29. "When you leave the Columbia mall on Route 175," said Lisa Quinn, "and you are trying to go to 29 north, the exit for 29 south is right there, and there is also an entrance ramp between them. During the busy hours, this is a complete mess."

But back up a bit: I think all the mall's entrances and exits are a mess, too, and this definitely makes that area one of my dreaded driving places. Add holiday shopping, and all bets are off.

What's your nomination for worst place to drive?

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net, send faxes to 410-715-2816 or mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 30 Corporate Center, 10440 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 820, Columbia, 21044. Please include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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