Sound barrier project is set to resume this month


April 03, 2005|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EDWARD MOORE has been wondering about the sound barrier the state is erecting along U.S. 29 southbound leading to Route 103.

"I regularly travel U.S. 29 between U.S. 40 and St. Johns Lane. U.S. 29's noise barrier project seems to have been abandoned, and we have seen little, if any, work performed during the past month or so," he said. "However, the temporary jersey walls have been left in place. These choke the traffic along southbound U.S. 29, and are a hazard to anyone in the right-hand lane. Is there any update on this project, or a date when these temporary walls will be removed?"

The good news, according to State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck, is that work should resume soon and the project will be finished on schedule this fall. "The contractor is expected to begin setting posts and panels in mid-April," he said.

However, the barrier along southbound U.S. 29 will remain in place to protect workers, Buck added.

Buck also said that in addition to what amounted to a winter hiatus, the contractor had encountered problems fabricating the noise wall panels to the specifications in the contract.

"This problem has now been resolved," Buck said. "The remaining work, including the setting of the posts to hold the walls, the fabrication of the walls themselves and the installation of the walls, can only be completed in warmer weather, thus the mid-April restart."

Use turn signals

Since motor vehicles were invented more than 100 years ago, a number of safety features have been added to them, not the least of which are seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes and turn signals. Buick was the innovator in this case: the 1938 Buick was advertised with the "Flash-Way Directional Signal" as a new, need-to-have safety feature. You would think that in the 67 years since turn signals were added to cars, we would have learned to use them.

Drivers who fail to use this nifty safety device really upset Doug Dribben.

"I lost count recently on one 20-mile commute of the number of vehicles that changed lanes or made turns without any signal whatsoever," he said.

I, too, have noticed the inability of some motorists to use their turn signals. You can't tell me that some car models don't come with them because I know that's not true. What is not a part of most standard car models is mind-reading capability. I view turn signals as a self-defense device, and I'm puzzled by those who don't see them the same way. So to those drivers out there too lazy to use your turn signals: Do you really want to trust my ability to guess what you're about to do? I'd prefer not to accept your compliment of my defensive-driving skills.

But Mr. Dribben's complaints don't end there: "And then there are those who fail to realize that they have completed a turn, and drive in the same lane (normally, the left lane) for miles at a stretch, all the while signaling a turn," he said.

Around we go

Roundabouts were designed to enhance safety at intersections and reduce delays in traffic proceeding through intersections. You wouldn't know this from the number of complaints I receive about them.

"I think the roundabouts are the most idiotic things that could have been implemented," Pamela Sutkaytis said. She said that sometimes traffic leaving Route 100 will allow incoming traffic - often a long series of vehicles - from Snowden River Parkway headed onto Route 100 [westbound] to speed through the yield sign and go around the circle before proceeding.

Ms. Sutkaytis' complaint about this roundabout is unjustified, however because that is how a roundabout is supposed to work. Vehicles approaching the roundabout should yield to vehicles already in it. Unlike a four-way stop, entering the roundabout is not on a first-come, first-served basis. If a number of motorists are entering the roundabout from an entrance to the left of yours, they have the right-of-way as long as the roundabout to the left of them is clear - even if you arrived at the roundabout first.

In this case, cars entering from Snowden River Parkway are virtually assured of having the right-of-way to enter the roundabout because most vehicles have already exited the roundabout. Vehicles that enter from Snowden River exit the roundabout to go onto Route 100 westbound; vehicles exiting Route 100, of course, exit onto Snowden River Parkway. I've seen only one car go all the way around; clearly, that driver was confused.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at, 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. Include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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