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Residents say reconfigured intersection causing problems

January 24, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Traffic passes Tuesday through the intersection of South Edgewood Drive and Howell Road.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

Hagerstown officials have received complaints about changes in traffic patterns near the intersection of South Edgewood Drive and Howell Road, where left turns from the northbound lanes of South Edgewood onto Howell were banned after the recent completion of a road-widening project.

More lanes were added near the intersection of Edgewood Drive and Dual Highway (Md. 40) and raised concrete medians were constructed on Edgewood Drive to limit turning in high-traffic areas near the highway, according to city officials at a Hagerstown City Council work session Tuesday night.

However, the medians, which were intended to reduce potential accidents and maximize lane capacity and efficiency, are causing more hazards now than officials first anticipated, and the council is interested in reopening the median for northbound traffic making left turns.

Longtime Hagerstown resident Robert McConnell urged the five-member council to reopen northbound left turns from South Edgewood Drive onto Howell Road because some motorists are cutting through the Hoffman Automotive lot, causing unwanted traffic and safety hazards for car shoppers and salesman.

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There were also reports of drivers making U-turns on Dual Highway to get back to Howell Road, which can also be dangerous with large volumes of turning vehicles from the highway, McConnell said.

McConnell said Howell Road is an often used street for 18 nearby businesses and about 85 residences, with more development on the way. A Walgreen’s pharmacy is planned for the corner of South Edgewood Drive and Dual Highway.

“It’s very inconvenient for a lot of people, with all the employees, the patients, the customers that use those businesses and the residents,” said McConnell, who attended the meeting with another frequent traveler, Robert Kendall of Boonsboro. “I use that sometimes four times a day. That’s four times I’m going through Hoffman’s lot that I shouldn’t have to.”

City Engineer Rodney Tissue presented the council with three options to change the traffic pattern and allow turns during non-peak hours.

The council, which took no formal action Tuesday, was in favor of an alternative that would reopen left turns onto Howell Road, just not between 7 and 9 a.m. or 5 and 7 p.m. Motorists coming toward South Edgewood Drive on Howell Road would still be restricted to right turns at all times, Tissue said.

Several council members supported the idea, which would call for concrete islands on either side of South Edgewood Drive and signs to help direct traffic.

“A lot of people would be very appreciative if that was opened up,” McConnell said.

The Washington County Transportation Advisory Committee recommends no changes to the current configuration, but the city Board of Traffic and Parking is in favor of reopening the median until Paul Smith Boulevard is constructed from Edgewood Drive to Howell Road, Tissue said.

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