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Clear Spring traffic light to stay for now

August 13, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

CLEAR SPRING - The 50 or so town residents who turned out Wednesday night to fight for the U.S. 40-Martin Street traffic light persuaded state officials to turn the signal back on pending a final decision on its fate.

The full-functioning traffic signal was changed to flashing status about a week ago in anticipation of the removal of utility poles at that intersection.

Fred Crozier, State Highway Administration district engineer, said the Wednesday night meeting was called because opposition to removing the light was mounting. He cited letters from the mayor and Town Council and the high school principal.

SHA engineers and planners who have designed the town's upcoming facelift informed town officials recently of their plans to remove the light.

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Installed in the 1960s, the signal at the west end of town is one of two lights within the town limits. The second light at U.S. 40 and Md. 68 was installed when Whitetail Ski Resort opened several years and traffic began backing up onto nearby Interstate 70.

"We have a lot of concerns at the Martin Street intersection ... speed, school bus safety, visibility and parking," said Betty Shank, the town's former mayor.

She said the traffic light has worked for more than 30 years to slow traffic coming into town from the west, traffic that often is moving much faster than the speed limit.

"The lack of accidents shows that the light works," Shank said. "We're trying to survive. We don't always want to be in an argument just to live here."

Resident Maxine Brown argued that the light is especially necessary when Interstate 70 is shut down because of accidents and traffic from the highway comes through town.

Maryland state Sen. Don Munson and Delegate Robert A. McKee, both R-Washington, pledged their support to keep the traffic light at the Martin Street intersection.

Clear Spring Middle School Principal James Conrad and Clear Spring High School Principal John Peckyno both urged retention of the light, citing crossing safety for children and slowing speeds of people leaving the schools after events.

Other residents, including Delroy Cline, Patty Boyd and Stefanie Taylor, voiced concern over lack of visibility for vehicles pulling out from Martin Street onto U.S. 40.

Crozier said a public hearing would be held to finalize plans for the 1999 street renovations and the fate of the traffic light.

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