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Intersection of Poffenberger Road and U.S. Alternate 40 forces closure for work

August 31, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • The first phase of the roundabout at Poffenberger Road and Alt. 40 is shown on Wednesday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Poffenberger Road will be closed to through traffic for at least two months from Garis Shop Road to Sharpsburg Pike (Md. 65) beginning Tuesday.

The road is to be closed so work crews can move the intersection of Poffenberger Road and U.S. Alternate 40 about 250 feet west and install a roundabout at the intersection of Poffenberger and Garis Shop roads, according a news release from the Maryland State Highway Administration.

The goal of the roundabout is to increase safety, as crashes in Maryland have declined by more than 70 percent where the SHA has installed roundabouts, according to Heather Keels of the SHA.

Roundabouts improve safety because traffic has to move one way, which takes away the possibility of angle collisions, and motorists must slow down to enter the intersection.

“Residents on Poffenberger Road will still be able to get to their homes,” Keels said in an emailed release. “They’ll just have to use the Sharpsburg Pike entrance.”

Detour signs will be placed in the area for motorists wanting to use Poffenberger Road.

“If you’re trying to travel between Md. 65 and (U.S. Alternate 40), a detour route is Wagaman Road,” Keels said. “We plan to have the road opened by mid-November, weather permitting.”

The work is part of a project that involves improving the intersection of Poffenberger Road and U.S. Alternate 40, installing the roundabout and improving road conditions on U.S. Alternate 40 from the outskirts of Funkstown to Poffenberger Road.

Work on improving U.S. Alternate 40 began in July, as additional turn lanes are being constructed. It has caused the lanes to narrow on the road while crews work behind barrier walls, and workers often reduce the road to one lane and direct traffic.

David Gilroy lives on the southwest corner of Poffenberger Road and U.S. Alternate 40, and he will be affected by all three phases of the project, but he said he does not mind.

“It isn’t bothering me at all, but it’ll be nice to get it done when they close this road up,” he said. “It’ll cut traffic down. There’s been an awful lot since they’ve been building these developments back here.”

Gilroy, 78, has lived in the house for 28 years. He said the intersection is prone to accidents, and he hopes the work will help cut down on them.

“Sometimes you have an accident every other day,” he said. “They need to keep people from crashing into one another.”

Washington County and the SHA are working on the project together, according to Keels, who said the county is funding about $1.25 million and the SHA about $250,000. C. William Hetzer Inc. of Hagerstown was contracted to do the work.

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