SHA planning long-term improvements along Route 99


November 27, 2005|By JODY K. VILSCHICK

Route 99 continues to be troublesome to drivers and residents who live along it.

"I would like to know if the speed limit is going to be reduced on Route 99 for the section in front of the new Marriotts Ridge High School?" asked Lisa Brusio Coster. She noted that the 50-mph speed limit makes it difficult for parents leaving the adjacent middle school, Mount View.

"Now that we have additional traffic, as well as new student drivers traveling to the high school, shouldn't the speed limit be reduced?" she asked. "As a Marriottsville resident, I raise the issue now before the school is at full capacity and we have a serious accident on our hands."

Dave Buck of the State Highway Administration said that a review of the speed limit is under way. "At the request of citizens, SHA is [evaluating] the Route 99 and Woodford Road intersection for possible traffic signal control, including a review of the 50-mph speed limit in this area," he said. He expects the evaluation to be complete in January.

"It is important to note that the school zone at this location is currently posted as a double-fine zone for exceeding the posted 50-mph speed limit," Buck said.

But given all the questions I've been receiving about Route 99, I asked whether any long-term improvements are planned.

Buck said SHA completed a reconstruction project along Route 99 between Mount Hebron Road and Maple Rock Road in June 2004 that added left-turn lanes, right-turn lanes and merge lanes at both intersections. In addition, Buck said, a center turn lane was constructed between the two intersections to provide a safe turning area for residents with driveways on the north side of Route 99.

The good news is that more is on the way. Buck expects that a new project to provide safety enhancements along Route 99 at the intersections of Tiller Drive and Liter Drive will be put out to bid early next year. SHA envisions improvements such as widening Route 99 to accommodate left-turn lanes, right-turn lanes and merge lanes. Existing drainage pipes and inlets will be replaced; new traffic-control signing and pavement markings will be installed.

Just astounding

Brian McAllister commutes between his home in Carroll County to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshal Airport. He sometimes takes back roads to make the commute a little calmer. This past week, he has been traveling down St. Johns Lane in Ellicott City.

"As you know, the community was very successful in having two speed humps built into St. Johns Lane. The past two mornings, while I was approaching the speed hump very close to Crest- leigh, two cars came out of the neighborhood on Crestleigh and proceeded to run the stop sign to get in front of me and the car in front of me as we slowed down to get over the hump," he said.

The situation astounds him. "Residents that fought to have speed humps installed to slow down drivers [are themselves] speeding through stop signs to beat the traffic that they impacted with the humps," he said.

`Homespun wisdom?'

One last question about the column two weeks ago that discussed laws pertaining to using cell phones while driving. In the column, I wrote, "As a motorist and a cell-phone user, it is your responsibility to know the relevant laws in the states in which you drive, whether you live there or are visiting for the day."

Jim Nicholson wondered: "Are you basing that statement on a law or legal opinion, or is this just homespun wisdom?"

I make no claims to being wise. The statement is my rewording of "ignorance of the law is no excuse" - for which I can hardly claim credit. But I was also trying to explain my philosophy that driving is not an entitlement, but a privilege.

What is your driving dilemma? 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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