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Lane confusion near U.S. 11 and Maugans Avenue

January 06, 2013

A reader emailed The Herald-Mail last week with a question regarding the left-turn and straight-through lanes approaching the intersection of U.S. 11 (Pennsylvania Avenue) and Maugans Avenue north of Hagerstown.

“When you drive north on Pennsylvania Avenue, at the intersection of North Pointe Drive, if you want to continue through the intersection and continue north ... you have to know to change lanes,” Hagerstown resident Jeannette Rinehart wrote in her email. “If you keep straight, you will automatically be in a left-turn lane at the next light.

“Why don’t they put big white arrows at the beginning of the lanes just after the light on North Pointe Drive to indicate right turn, straight through and left turn?”

Rinehart wrote that motorists coming south on U.S. 11 toward the Maugans Avenue intersection face a similar problem and white arrows in the lanes would help indicate which lane is straight through.

“In both cases, it is very easy to be in the wrong lane when traffic is moving and very difficult and unsafe to change lanes when you reach the intersection and realize your mistake,” she wrote.

When asked about her concerns, Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar responded in an email Wednesday that there are several sets of arrows and “only” pavement markings in the northbound lanes of U.S. 11 from North Pointe Drive all the way to Maugans Avenue, even though they could be covered by vehicles when traffic is heavy.

“In addition, there is a sign just north of North Pointe Drive on the right that displays arrows and ‘only’ and notes the through and left lanes,” he wrote. “The signs supplement the pavement markings in the likely event that the pavement markings are obscured by traffic or snow.

“All signing and marking conforms to state and federal regulations and is standard across the state,” Gischlar added.

As for the southbound traffic at the intersection, Gischlar explained that the left-turn lane is a “separate movement” that drivers have to turn into from the through lane, and no arrows or signs are needed since motorists aren’t forced to turn left.

“There is a right-turn lane that also comes off of the through lane,” he wrote.

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— C.J. Lovelace

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