What's wrong with this picture?

November 06, 2011

The problem: Traffic backs up on the ramp from I-81 to Maugans Avenue because drivers stop, unnecessarily, at the end of the ramp to eastbound Maugans Avenue, Karen Gelwicks of Williamsport wrote in an email.

Recent widening of Maugans Avenue created a dedicated lane for traffic coming off the interstate, so no merge or stop is needed for vehicles turning right onto Maugans Avenue, Gelwicks said. However, there are no signs to tell drivers they don’t need to stop, she said.

“Many times I have almost been in a collision either into someone, or someone into me, because I have had to slam on the brakes at the end of the ramp,” Gelwicks wrote. “This is definitely a traffic hazard! Please help to make the flow of traffic safer on this busy road!”

Who could fix it: Washington County

What they say: Washington County Division of Public Works engineers will review operations at the intersection and consider measures that could be taken to improve traffic flow, county spokeswoman Sarah Lankford Sprecher said.

Driver apprehension seems to be part of the problem, with drivers heading east waiting until no more traffic is coming from the west on Maugans Avenue, even though they have a dedicated and protected lane, Sprecher wrote in an email.

Some of the drivers could be waiting for a gap because they plan to make left turns into businesses along Maugans Avenue, she said.

One possible solution would be to restrict entry into those businesses, but the legalities of highway access will need to be reviewed, and any significant changes would require time and money to implement, Sprecher wrote.

Signing and marking might be able to slightly improve conditions, she said.

Sprecher noted that there is a traffic signal for traffic turning left onto Maugans Avenue from the ramp or continuing straight to return to I-81.

The signal naturally causes some backup, or “queuing,” on the ramp, but the signal is equipped with a detector that triggers extra green time if the backup on the ramp threatens to reach the interstate, Sprecher said.

 — Compiled by Heather Keels

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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.
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