SNOW HILL — The check might not be in the mail just yet for continued improvements on Route 113, but Annapolis is aware of the importance of the project, according to state delegates.
During an update of continuing and upcoming projects from the State Highway Administration (SHA), State Senator Jim Mathias (D-38B) told the Worcester County Commission that he and Delegate Norm Conway (D-38B) recently met with Gov. Martin O’Malley to discuss the status of Route 113 and found the governor receptive of their concerns.
“I think, modestly speaking, he was profoundly impressed,” said Mathias, who went on to say that “we have [O’Malley’s] attention.”
Conway agreed and pointed out that progress updating Route 113 into a four-lane highway has been “slow but continued” for many years, even though the economic crunch of the last four years that left other, similar projects sidelined. He shared Mathias’ belief that O’Malley recognized how important momentum is with Route 113.
“We are hoping he will continue that forward movement,” said Conway, who hedged his optimism only slightly by saying that there are still difficult times ahead.
SHA Administrator Malinda Peters reminded the commission that her agency did just wrap up work on Phase 2 of the Route 113 improvement plan and expects to see the ball start to roll for Phases 3 and 4 in the near future, as both have already received funding.
“Design is fully funded for Phases 3 and 4,” said Peters.
She echoed Conway’s point about slow but steady development as well.
“While we are fiscally constrained, we continue to see progress,” she remarked.
Though officials had a relatively positive outlook on seeing Route 113 continue to be improved, there was some frustration tied to one of that road’s most infamous intersections displayed as well.
Commissioner Virgil Shockley addressed complaints over accidents at the intersection of Routes 113 and 12 to SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer during the presentation. A long-time advocate of additional safety features at the accident prone intersection, Shockley told Drewer that he personally witnessed a recent collision at the intersection, one of many that he’s seen over the years.
“Last week I watched my fifth crash, Donnie,” said Shockley.
Besides those seen by Shockley, the intersection has been the site of dozens of collisions since it was formed. Recently, a particularly rough year prompted the SHA to decide to install J-turns at the intersection. The turns are meant to serve as traffic calming devices that should reduce the most common “angle” collisions.
Shockley admitted the turns will be a step in the right direction but told Drewer his constituents were hoping for a more traditional fix like a stoplight. While that was an option that SHA considered, Drewer stated that the J-turns will likely reduce accidents more dramatically than a light.
“I think a light would be more dangerous than J-turns are,” he said.
Drewer called the turns “much safer” than lights, at least for the site’s specific issues. Shockley expressed hope that Drewer would be right but still requested that SHA conduct a public meeting in the Snow Hill area to give residents who frequently use the intersection a chance to ask questions about the J-turns. Dozens of citizens have already called or emailed complaints about not getting a light, Shockley continued, saying that he has been “lit up about it.”
Drewer promised that SHA will hold a public information session in the future.