What's wrong with this picture?

May 01, 2011
  • Motorists drive through a school zone Thursday on Rohrersville Road (Md. 67) close to the entrance to Pleasant Valley Elementary School.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

The problem: Traffic zooms past Pleasant Valley Elementary School at 55 mph on Rohrersville Road (Md. 67), which does not have a reduced-speed “school zone” near the school.

“It’s a very dangerous situation,” said James Shoemaker, who said he saw three near-accidents there one morning in late March. Shoemaker said he would like to see a reduced speed limit in that area, designated by signs with flashing lights.

Another problem is a shoulder that is used as a passing lane near the school, Shoemaker said.

Who could fix it: Maryland State Highway Administration

What they say: Signs warning of a school ahead are in place, but reducing the speed limit “is not something that would likely be considered in this instance, when you look at the full picture of what’s going on there,” SHA spokesman David Buck said.

The school sits back from Md. 67 and is reached by an access road, there are no play areas close to the highway and a review several years ago determined that there are no students who walk to the school, George Small, the SHA’s assistant district engineer for traffic, said in an email. Md. 67 is a limited-access road and the stretch near the school is wide open, with no homes, Small said.

Barbara Scotto, Washington County Public Schools’ transportation director, said in an email that she agreed with Small’s assessment and had not received any complaints or concerns about the location.

Scotto wrote that the biggest problem on Md. 67 is drivers illegally passing school buses that are stopped to pick up or drop off passengers, and suggested adding signs reminding drivers about the state law against that.

Buck said the SHA would consider adding the signs, but would not remove the shoulder because doing so could lead to an increase in high-speed, rear-end crashes.

The four-tenths of a mile closest to the school was the site of only one recorded crash in the four years from 2007 through 2010, Buck said.

 — Compiled by Heather Keels

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