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Intersection expansion results in vehicular chaos

June 22, 2011

All right, I give up.

What’s the punch line?

There’s got to be one, right? I mean, this can’t be the normal way you go around highway construction.

I am referencing, obviously, the Edgewood Drive/Dual Highway intersection expansion, which apparently was designed on Bring Your Children to Work Day, when state engineers decided to sit back and see what little Chauncy could do with a mechanical pencil and a pad of drafting paper.

What do I like best about this project?

Oh, I don’t know, there are so many places I can go. I kind of dig the bike lane that runs down the middle of the highway and then just disappears like the Lost River in West Virginia.

Or maybe it’s what can only be characterized at the “Lazy S” heading toward HCC where the road wobbles drunkenly for no apparent reason.

Neighbors of the project say they have taken up setting out lawn chairs so they can amuse themselves by gazing at crews laying a swatch of pavement one day only to dig it up the next, like maybe someone lost his watch under the macadam or something.

My personal favorite is the way that they move around barrels and cones like a small boy plays with Army figures. You never know where they’ll be one day to the next, and there’s something kind of exciting about that.

If you held a vote, however, I believe the clear winner would be the two left-hand turn lanes from Robinwood onto Dual Highway that together are about wide enough for a Honda Civic.

Maybe if we all pitch in, we can buy the State of Maryland a tape measure, although it would have been a good idea to do so before they poured the concrete. This was a problem in need of an immediate solution, so contractors immediately widened the lanes to accommodate two lanes of traffic.

Oh wait, that’s what would happen in Normal Land. Here, they simply set up a row of road cones, blocking one lane off entirely.

I loved the state’s cockamamie lane-blocking excuse that went “the other side of the intersection wasn’t done yet.” They never explained what that had to do with a left onto the Dual, but no matter: It’s too much fun watching the go-kart race that develops as cars dodge and weave into each other from several crazy angles. Normally, you improve an intersection to make things safer, not crazier than Newt Gingrich’s finances, but that doesn’t hold in Washington County, I guess.

Remember when we all laughed at then-Commissioner John Munson many moons ago for suggesting a Dual Highway overpass? Today, he’s looking like a genius. Of course, considering how badly they’ve botched a simple intersection, if these guys had been given a shot at an overpass, it probably would have ended up in Brazil.

So what went wrong? I have two theories. One is that we complain so much about not getting our fair share of highway construction money, the state decided to teach us a lesson. Believe me, it will be a long time before I ask for any highway improvement again. I’m afraid that I, or someone I love, will be killed.

The second theory is that Washington County has been targeted as the guinea pig for some grand social experiment. You know that new office building out there with all the blacked-out windows? Scientists are sitting up there watching our behavior when confronted with utter vehicular chaos.

I just shudder to think what will happen if the state ever decides to build us a new bridge over the Potomac.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or by email at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable’s WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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