Community stuck with dangerous exit to U.S. 29


August 21, 2005|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ANN FINNERAN lives in Riverside Estates, near the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. Her neighborhood's entrance is at the last remaining traffic light on U.S. 29 south in Howard, at Rivers Edge Road. There is no light for traffic headed north on U.S. 29 at this site.

"The trauma is attempting to exit the neighborhood and get onto U.S. 29 north," she said. To do so, drivers must wait at the light, cross over U.S. 29 south, and then enter the left lane of northbound U.S. 29.

From this position, drivers find it very difficult to take the next exit - to eastbound Route 32 - because the exit comes up so quickly. To take this exit, "one must merge onto 29 north [if anyone lets you in] and then immediately cross all lanes in order to exit onto Route 32 east," Finneran said. "Especially during rush hour, this can be extremely dangerous."

She wonders whether the state or county has any plans to redesign this intersection.

According to Dave Buck, State Highway Administration spokesman, SHA's long-term plan is to widen U.S. 29 to six lanes from the Montgomery County line to U.S. 29's end at Route 99 in northern Howard. He notes that U.S. 29 already has been widened between Route 100 and Route 99, and SHA has funded the addition of a third lane in another stretch - between the Middle Patuxent River, just north of Route 216, to Broken Land Parkway.

"As we move forward with the project, SHA will look to create a long-term solution to the access issues at U.S. 29 and Rivers Edge Road," he said.

But he offers an easy fix to complaints that motorists have difficulty getting across northbound U.S. 29 to get to eastbound Route 32.

"SHA has suggested many, many times to residents in this area [that] it would be only slightly longer to go south along U.S. 29, make a safe turnaround at Johns Hopkins Road or Route 216 [to return north on U.S. 29] to the eastbound 32 exit," he said.

"An extra few minutes added to the commute is a small price to pay if the motorist is uncomfortable merging onto eastbound Route 32 from Rivers Edge Road across U.S. 29," he added.

He appreciates the reality that many residents in the area refuse to drive a short distance on southbound U.S. 29 to save some frustration. But he cautioned that there is "no reasonable way" SHA could justify or approve a connection from the community to Route 32 so close to the U.S. 29 interchange.

Move over; let speeders pass you on the left

Rich Honafous recently wondered which law states that "we have to pull to the right, even though we are going at the speed limit or above, to enable a person to break the law even more than we might be if we're above the limit?"

In particular, he argued that "the concept of enabling people to break the law in all sorts of other situations is an interesting idea. For example, if I see a store being robbed, I should hold the door open to make it easier for the robbers to run out?"

The relevant law can be found in the Maryland Traffic Code, Article 21 Section 303.d: "the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle."

This law doesn't say anything like "unless the overtaking vehicle is speeding" or "unless you feel morally justified to slow the other driver down." Obviously, I am not - and this law is not - advocating enabling law-breaking. In this one case at least, leave law enforcement in the hands of the experts.

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. Please include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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