SNOW HILL — Prompted by a fatality at the intersection of Route 12 and US 113 earlier this month, the Worcester County Commission is officially asking state delegates to advocate installing a traffic light at the spot.
“We implore you to contact the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT)-State Highway Administration (SHA) to request signalization of this intersection before any further accidents or fatalities occur,” read a letter signed by all of the commissioners to the lower shore delegation of elected officials.
While the letter is clear in its intention, it is much tamer than Commissioner Virgil Shockley had originally requested. Last week, Shockley remarked that he would be willing to “raise hell” with MDOT for the rest of his time as a commissioner until the accident-prone intersection, which has seen roughly 50 incidents in the last five years, is addressed.
While the current letter is only an initial request to get the support of Delegates Norm Conway (D-38B), Mike McDermott (R-38B), and state Senator Jim Mathias, Shockley said last week that more letters and noise will likely be made if MDOT decides not to signalize the intersection in the next few months.
SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer said the intersection will be studied.
“If it warrants a traffic signal, we’ll put one up,” he said.
However, Drewer said that SHA is doing its own independent evaluation of the intersection.
“After every fatal accident … we do an investigation,” he said.
While the opinions of the commission will likely be weighed, the final call on whether or not the intersection will be signaled falls on the results of the agency evaluation. Drewer was respectful of the commission’s concerns, but pointed out that SHA had the technical expertise and experience to handle the situation. Drewer also noted that a signal was not a silver bullet to eliminating accidents, despite what the general public may believe.
“Putting a signal there doesn’t mean it would have stopped the fatality,” he said.
Drewer added that a light actually had the potential to make the intersection more dangerous in an entirely new way, since sudden stopping in that area could catch drivers by surprise.
Results from the SHA evaluation should be available early next month, at which point the agency will have to decide on whether or not to add a light at the intersection as advocated by the commissioners.