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Troubles continue on interstate

November 06, 2000

Troubles continue on interstate



Despite signs, blinking orange lights and the threat of double fines, motorists continue to have accidents far too often along an Interstate 70 construction zone.

"The problem is there is a lane shift coming down South Mountain," said Steve Davis, resident engineer for the State Highway Administration. That means there is no shoulder and therefore no place to go if trouble arises.

If drivers would obey the 55 mph speed limit and avoid tailgating, some accidents could be avoided, but that's not the case, Davis said.

"Where the road shifts to the right, drivers are coming down the mountain too fast," Davis said. "When they get there, they tend to panic but still they don't slow down."

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To make matters worse, motorists don't leave enough room between them and the vehicle in front of them.

"If something happens, there is no reaction time," Davis said.

Maryland State Police Saturday reported at least eight accidents, including one that closed the westbound lanes for more than two hours in the early afternoon.

In the most serious incident, a U-Haul truck hit the guardrail at Crystal Falls Drive after swerving to miss some debris in the roadway, police said.

A tractor trailer then hit the guardrail as did six passenger vehicles.

Police said four vehicles struck the guardrail there on Oct. 21 after an earlier impact caused a piece of metal to jut into the roadway.

Davis said having off-duty Maryland State Police troopers positioned at the site of dangerous work areas is a big help. The cost of that is paid by the contractors and is figured into the bid process when the jobs begin, Davis said.

"When they are there, they are clearly visible to drivers and speeds tend to come down," Davis said.

- Marlo Barnhart

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