Misleading Beltway sign may pose a hazard

WATCHDOG

December 12, 2006|By Nick Shields

THE PROBLEM -- Alan Hirai, who works in Washington, reported that a Baltimore Beltway sign notifying commuters of the distance to an approaching exit appeared to be inaccurate.

THE BACK STORY -- Hirai said an overhead sign on the outer loop of Interstate 695 says that the Harbor Tunnel Thruway (I-895) is a half-mile away, when it is in fact much closer. He said he first discovered the inaccuracy this summer when he thought he had more time to merge into the appropriate lane and almost missed the ramp. He said that when he recently approached the sign again, he decided to measure the distance while driving and found it to be about 1,000 feet.

Hirai said he believes the mistake could pose a danger, as drivers might be forced to quickly cross often-crowded lanes to make the exit.

Chuck Gischlar, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said officials surveyed the sign Thursday and Friday and determined the distance to the exit is actually closer to a quarter-mile. He said the sign will be changed.

The spokesman said the work is expected to take about an hour and that one lane of traffic will be temporary blocked. Gischlar said work should be completed by Dec. 22. It costs $8.65 per square foot to fix the sign, and officials say they plan to replace a 2-foot-by-8-foot section, costing a total of $138.40.

WHO CAN FIX IT -- Thomas Hicks, director of the Office of Traffic and Safety, Maryland State Highway Administration: 410-787-5815.

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