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Concerns aired about Sandy Hook road project

September 10, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

SANDY HOOK, Md. — A left-turn lane from westbound U.S. 340 onto the east end of Keep Tryst Road will be completed in about a month, but most of the people who spoke Tuesday night at an Maryland State Highway Administration meeting were concerned that it might worsen a bad situation.

The left turn onto Keep Tryst should open by mid-to-late November, Traffic Engineer John Wolford told the more than 40 area residents at the Brownsville Church of the Brethren. While traffic will be able to turn left from westbound U.S. 340, left turns from Keep Tryst onto 340 will not be permitted, he said.

The creation of the left-turn lane has required the removal of a section of median that prevented left turns onto Keep Tryst Road, SHA spokeswoman Heather Keels said after the meeting.

During construction of the turn, one of U.S. 340’s eastbound lanes has been closed, and the SHA is proposing that it remain closed so that left-turning traffic onto Keep Tryst Road only has to cross one lane, instead of two, Wolford said during the meeting.

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Traffic flow will be monitored, and the one-lane pattern could be continued  the longterm if the results are favorable, he said.

That would involve painting cross-hatches onto to closed lane to direct traffic into the single lane, Wolford said.

However, some people at the meeting said that many motorists might ignore the lane restriction and continue to drive on it as they attempt to merge into the single lane. Others complained about the long waits to get onto U.S. 340 during to congestion, despite being in a rural area.

“I don’t give you two weeks until you have you’re first major accident there,” said Eric Smothers of Brunswick, Md., the assistant chief of the Brunswick Volunteer Ambulance Co.

“That left-turn lane was there 20 years ago, and we took it away for a reason,” Smothers said after the meeting, noting that it was closed off because of the number of accidents.

While several people expressed skepticism about the plan, Wolford asked the residents to give it a chance.

“That’s all we’re asking ... Let’s see how it operates,” he said.

Suggestions from area residents included flashing warning signs, reduced speed limits and “dynamic message signs” that warn of upcoming traffic hazards and conditions.

District 6 Engineer Tony Crawford said that a reduction in the 55 mph speed limit would likely not be effective as motorist tend to drive at the “prevailing speed.”

Wolford said reducing traffic to one lane will act as a traffic-calming device.

The residents had other suggestions, particularly for Valley Road west of the east end of Keep Tryst Road, some of which might involve major construction.

The residents’ comments will be taken into consideration in planning for the roads in the area, Wolford said.

With limited resources, Wolford said the SHA was trying to come up with “bang-for-the-buck” solutions.

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