What's Wrong With This Picture?

February 19, 2012
  • A crosswalk across West Main Street (Md. 144) in Hancock, about 500 feet east of the entrances to the Hancock schools, ends at a steep hill, with no sidewalk or shoulder, on the north side of the street.
Submitted 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: A crosswalk across West Main Street (Md. 144) in Hancock, about 500 feet east of the entrances to the Hancock schools, ends at a steep hill, with no sidewalk or shoulder, on the north side of the street.

Area resident Sherri Forney wrote in an email that she sees no benefit in having the crosswalk when there is nowhere to walk on the other side of it.

She suggested moving the crosswalk to a spot where there is a shoulder on the north side of the street.

“My child does not use this crosswalk, but if she had to, I would make sure she had a ride, as this crosswalk is not sufficient for the children to use safely,” she wrote.

Who could fix it: Maryland State Highway Administration and the Town of Hancock

What they say: Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy said the crosswalk was installed by the state, but after examining it, he believes its purpose is to allow students from apartments on the south side of the street to safely cross to get onto a school bus stopped in the westbound lane in the mornings.

Because they are crossing to a bus, not the other side of the street, the fact that there is no shoulder on the other side is not a problem, he said.

Murphy also said that because of a hill, the crosswalk would not be as visible if it were moved to the east, where there is a shoulder.

The State Highway Administration agreed with Murphy’s assessment, SHA spokesman David Buck said.

“A shift of the crosswalk to the east or west would limit visibility and reduce safety for all users of the road,” Buck said.

In fact, the crosswalk was moved to its current spot to maximize visibility, Buck said. Years ago, it was located to the west, but drivers could not see the pavement markings, he said.

Busing is offered for all students at the Hancock schools, but there are walkers who may elect not to take the bus or leave school after an activity and miss the bus, Buck said.

Buck said the town would need to take the lead for any discussions about adding sidewalks in the area.

Murphy said adding sidewalks to that area has been debated for many years. In addition to the expense, another factor in the decision is that if sidewalks were added, students who are currently bused up a steep hill would have to walk to school, he said.

“Years ago, they just kind of dismissed it that Blue Hill would not be a walking street,” he said.

Following up: The CSX Railroad property where people were dumping tires and garbage along Md. 68 north of Williamsport was cleaned up earlier this month, and large rocks were put in place to block vehicular access to the site, CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan said.

The tires, which collect water and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, were the subject of a “What’s Wrong with This Picture?” feature in May 2011 and again in January of this year.
Barb Miles, who wrote in about the problem both times, said she was pleased with the addition of the rocks.

“When something is wrong, I try to get it corrected and when it happens, I think people should know they have done a good job,” she wrote in an email.


 — Compiled by Heather Keels

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What’s Wrong With This Picture
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100 Summit Ave.
Hagerstown MD 21740
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