SNOW HILL — Efforts to calm an accident prone intersection in Worcester County resurfaced again this week when the County Commissioners received a letter from Maryland Secretary of Transportation Beverley Swaim-Staley.
In the letter, Swaim-Staley noted that the intersection at Route 12 and US 113, which has seen more than 50 accidents since being revamped in 2006, is the current subject of a signal warrant analysis.
“The new study will include a review of the existing signing, lighting, and pavement markings, as well as a signal warrant study,” wrote Swaim-Staley. “Also included will be a speed study, sight distance evaluations, turning movement counts, and an evaluation of the crash data and current traffic operations.”
This will be the first signal warrant analysis since 2007 at the intersection and was prompted by a fatal crash last December. While Swaim-Staley noted in the letter that the survey should be finished within 60 days, the commission has already met informally with the State Highway Administration (SHA).
“J-turns are one option they are looking at seriously,” said Commissioner Virgil Shockley.
Shockley has led the charge for improving Route 12 and US 113 and has called for an overpass to be built at the spot in the past. After the fatal accident last December, Shockley decided a more immediate solution would be necessary and motioned that the commission request aid from state delegates to push for a stoplight at the troubled intersection.
“The accidents speak for themselves … the clear thing is that what we have is not working,” said Shockley.
What, if any, measures will be taken to alter Route 12 and US 113 are still undecided. Shockley acknowledged that SHA hasn’t eliminated a traffic light as an option yet, but has expressed some concerns about the realities of the budget it’s working with.
SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer confirmed that J-turns are a favorable possibility.
“We’re using J-turns at most intersections,” he said.
But Drewer added that all options will be examined during the study.
“Everything that we can put on the table, we have,” he said.
Whatever the survey determines, Shockley said he will continue to push for improvements.
“There’s a human price that goes along with that intersection,” he said.
If SHA recommends J-turns, Shockley said he will attempt to get a stoplight installed in the interim, since constructing the turns will not be an immediate process. He also went on the record re-confirming that his eventual goal is to get an overpass constructed at the spot.
If the study comes back without any recommendations for improvements, however, Shockley deemed that unacceptable.
“If anyone has the audacity to stand in front of me as a commissioner and say that is a safe intersection, I’m going to lose it,” he said.
While Shockley has been vocal about his assessment of the intersection since it was in the planning stages, he said that he will continue to remain patient while SHA conducts the evaluation. But he urged them to act as quickly as possible to rectify what he believes are flagrant and long standing design flaws at the location that jeopardize everyone who passes through Route 12 and US 113.
“If the rate of accidents at that intersection is any indication, you’re going to get another one within 30 days,” Shockley said.