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What's wrong with this picture?

December 13, 2009

Editor's note: Each Monday, The Herald-Mail will highlight an infrastructure issue or other problem, and will try to find out what is being done to fix or improve the situation.

We will not tackle situations involving neighborhood or domestic disputes or consumer problems.

The problem: Left-turn lanes on Leitersburg Pike (Md. 60) for northbound traffic turning into Long Meadow Shopping Center and for southbound traffic turning into Stone House Square bear no markings to indicate they are for left turns only.

"Going north, there are three lanes just north of Eastern Boulevard and a driver not familiar with the area traveling in the left lane northbound would run into the opposing median without any indication that it's a turning lane," an anonymous reader wrote in an e-mail.

Who could fix it: The intersection in question was recently improved by a developer as part of a commercial development project, but the Maryland State Highway Administration is responsible for inspecting the work.

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What they say: After sending an inspector to examine the lanes, SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar reported that the left-turn lanes in question do not need to be marked for left turns only because drivers will only be in those lanes if they intentionally merge into them to make a left turn.

"You literally have to make a decision to get into the lane," Gischlar said.

According to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the national guidelines for signs, signals and pavement markings, turn-only markings are required when through-traffic lanes approaching an intersection become mandatory turn lanes. The manual does not require markings on protected turn lanes, which open up for the sole purpose of holding traffic waiting to make a turn, Gischlar said.

The protected left-turn lanes on Leitersburg Pike are long because a lot of space is needed to accommodate the volume of turning traffic, but drivers should still be able to tell their purpose, he said.

Gischlar said SHA has no plans to have left-turn-only markings added to the lanes.

-- Compiled by Heather Keels




o If you are aware of a safety problem, a major annoyance or a pet peeve that one of our governmental bodies, an agency or an organization is responsible for fixing, send the information, and a photo if you have it, to:

What's Wrong With This Picture
c/o The Herald-Mail newsroom
100 Summit Ave.
Hagerstown MD 21740

You can e-mail the information to lindad@herald-mail.com.

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