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Residents seek upgrade to U.S. 340 intersection

October 01, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

o Budget tighter, but Md. roads projects on track

SANDY HOOK -- A group of South County residents on Thursday presented Maryland Department of Transportation officials with a petition they said was signed by more than 700 residents and travelers seeking improvements to what they say is a congested, accident-prone intersection on U.S. 340.

Valley Road resident Kaye Deener said accidents happen almost once a month at the intersection where Valley Road and Keep Tryst Road meet U.S. 340, near the Potomac River at the southern tip of Washington County.

"The bottom line is somebody needs to do something," Deener said. "We pay our taxes and abide by the rules, and yet nothing seems to be done for that end of southern Washington County."

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Part of the problem is that the turn lanes on U.S. 340 are too short, causing delays as traffic waiting to turn backs up onto the one-lane portion of the highway, said Eric Whitenton, president of Citizens for the Preservation of Pleasant Valley. The intersection has a flashing yellow light, he said.

Drivers often use a left-turn lane as a passing zone, then dart back into traffic, Whitenton said. The steep grade and narrowing of the road also contribute to the problem, he said.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, asked the state to look into the issue, which he said might be a matter of aligning traffic patterns.

"If there's a traffic accident there, it entirely cuts off the entire commuting pattern," Shank said.

State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen said he was aware of the situation and had been stuck in traffic at that spot himself.

The State Highway Administration has been reviewing the intersection and is considering short-term solutions such as extending the turn lanes and installing physical barriers to keep people from using the left-turn lane as a passing zone, said Anthony F. Crawford, district engineer for Western Maryland.

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