Time will fix it

November 29, 2011

"Time heals all wounds," as they, the cliched voices, say.

That is seemingly the same philosophy they — as in the designers, planners and leaders of the Maryland Transportation Authority – have taken toward a bit of goofiness in the recently completed highway intersections of Routes 24 and 924, I-95 and Tollgate Road in Abingdon.

The "confusion" is the confluence of motorists trying to drive south on 24 as they get on the highway from 924 or Tollgate. Many drivers have been experiencing the confusion regularly since the much-anticipated project opened in October. To get where many want to go, they have to merge quickly across traffic, with traffic coming at them from the left, the right or both. Some have complained, many have not.

The MdTA has received some complaints, according to Teri Moss, a spokeswoman for the agency, but attributed much of that to the expected "learning curve" that comes with any new traffic pattern.

"While what we are hearing from the public is that new traffic pattern can be confusing, we will continue to work with the MSP [Maryland State Police] to facilitate smooth traffic flow in the area, especially around the holiday season," Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane said. "I would like to caution everyone to be cognitive of the new traffic patterns and congestion."

Amen to that, especially for those caught unaware in recent years of the woes getting out of the shopping area off Tollgate Road that is anchored by Walmart, Target, Lowe's and BJ's Wholesale Club, not to mention the busy McDonald's, Regal Cinemas and others.

To help quicken that "learning curve," police were being assigned to the shopping area and the traffic patterns at that intersection. Lt. Charles Moore, commander of the Bel Air Barrack of the Maryland State Police, wrote in a recent email that there would be three state troopers and one Harford County Sheriff' deputy on duty.

There's a certain amount of truth to the "learning curve" notion, but there's more to the "confusion" than that it will just take some time for drivers to acclimate themselves to the changes.

What's also true is that there had to be alternatives, which might have been too pricey or otherwise not doable, that would have lessened the "learning curve" closer to zero. And that would have made the project truly worth its $20 million cost.

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