What's wrong with this picture?

April 10, 2011

The problem: Drivers continue to take a sharp curve on Md. 494 (Fairview Road) too fast, sometimes skidding off the road, nearby resident Rob Soper said.

“It is a very sharp and sudden banked curve, not something you see very often and not what you expect a state highway to be,” Soper wrote in an email. “Every day, we hear tires squealing,” he wrote in another email.

When the curve, in northern Washington County near Cearfoss, was featured in “What’s wrong with this picture?” on Oct. 5, 2009, a State Highway Administration spokesman said the state was in the process of implementing improvements to get drivers to slow down. SHA followed through by adding rumble strips in the center line and across the lane approaching the curve, but Soper said these are not enough.

After a temporary drop in the number and severity of wrecks on the curve, the rumble strips across the lane wore away by fall 2010 and there were two wrecks in two weeks, Soper wrote in a Nov. 15 email.

Soper said when he contacted the SHA last fall about the worn rumble strips, the agency came out and repaired them.

He said he has been told that SHA planned to convert the banked curve into a flat “T” intersection with a three-way-stop, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Who could fix it: State Highway Administration

What they say: SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said the SHA had been studying the issue at the curve and plans to install a hazard-identification beacon — a blinking light attached to a sign warning of the approaching curve — in late spring or summer.

“That should really help,” he said. “That’s like right in your face, ‘curve ahead,’ and it’s blinking.”

Gischlar said a three-way stop was one of the potential solutions being considered in an ongoing study, but it will be another 30 to 60 days before recommendations from that report are finalized and approved.

He said that while the SHA is doing everything it can to use engineering to improve safety at that spot, drivers must also take some responsibility.

“There has to be an onus on the driver to understand that there has to be a safe speed to negotiate a curve,” he said.

— Compiled by Heather Keels

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
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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.

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