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What's wrong with this picture?

December 27, 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: At the intersection of Underpass Way, Railway Lane and the entrance to Bob Evans near Valley Mall, traffic on Railway Lane does not stop, making turns onto Railway Lane difficult and causing backups on Underpass Way.

"I believe this intersection should be a four-way stop," an anonymous reader wrote in an e-mail. "The volume of traffic (and the excessive speed) make entering Railway Lane a very dicey proposition many times."

Who could fix it: Washington County Division of Public Works

What they say: Washington County Transportation Engineer Merle Saville said he studied the problem and had recommended a capital project to improve that intersection.

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"We have a bad situation there, no ifs, ands and buts about that," Saville said.

Saville said that at this time of year, backups on Underpass Way can extend back to the Plaza Hotel and it's not unusual for vehicles to have to wait five minutes or more to make a maneuver at the intersection.

The problem is the volume of traffic on those roads during the Christmas shopping season, and on Friday evenings and Saturdays.

"Most other times it operates all right," he said.

Saville said the county was exploring several options for improving the situation, but he said he did not think a four-way stop was the answer because it would cause even more delays than the intersection is already experiencing.

Robert J. Slocum, deputy director of public works and head of capital projects, said the county was looking at the best solution for handling the traffic and was considering a signalized intersection or a roundabout.

That project is in the county's Capital Improvement Plan to be funded starting in fiscal year 2013, and the earliest construction could start is the summer of 2013, Slocum said. However, budget limitations could potentially push the project back even farther, he said.

-- 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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