What's wrong with this picture?

December 25, 2011
  • This file photo shows the scene of a Nov. 18 crash on eastbound Interstate 70 in which a car merging onto I-70 from U.S. 40 collided with a tractor-trailer. Use of the same merge area by traffic entering and exiting the highway makes this a dangerous area, reader Peggy Hutson wrote in an email.
File photo

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: “When is the State Highway Administration going to do anything at Interstate 70 East, Exit 32B (at U.S. 40)?” Peggy Hutson wrote in an email. “Vehicles are attempting to access the exit, as vehicles are trying to get on to I-70 East. Many vehicles do not yield, making it a very dangerous area.”

On Sept. 15, a minivan entering I-70 from U.S. 40 at this spot slowed as it entered the flow of traffic and was struck by a tractor-trailer, which then swerved and struck a motorcycle, according to Maryland State Police. On Nov. 18, a car entering from U.S. 40 struck a tractor-trailer, spun out of control and landed face-up in the embankment, police said.

Hutson suggested the merge could be made safer by eliminating the ramp from U.S. 40 east to I-70 east and instead creating a crossover on U.S. 40 so that traffic from U.S. 40 east could make a left turn and use the ramp from U.S. 40 west. Or, the ramp from I-70 east to U.S. 40 west could be closed and that traffic could instead use the exit to U.S. 40 east and make a U-turn, she said.

Who could fix it: Maryland State Highway Administration

What they say: SHA spokesman David Buck said the cloverleaf configuration at I-70 and U.S. 40 is a common one and the recent crashes there were due to driver error, not the configuration of the interchange.

“Our two lead traffic engineers in the Washington County area have collectively more than 80 years experience at SHA and neither have heard of any specific issues at this interchange,” Buck wrote in an email.

“There are hundreds of places where motorists at a low speed need to merge into high-speed interstate traffic,” he said. “There is nothing unusual” about the location in question.

The suggested alternatives would create a crash issue on U.S. 40 and would be “an extremely expensive proposition with little safety benefit,” Buck 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

You can email the information to

The Herald-Mail Articles