Meeting Planned To Discuss Problem Intersection

BERLIN – Serious car accidents continue at the recently “improved” intersection of Routes 113 and 12 near Snow Hill, prompting a local activist group to schedule a public meeting to discuss the situation and perhaps urge state officials to ensure similar design flaws are not repeated at other intersections as the dualization project continues.

The most recent accident at the dangerous intersection of Routes 113 and 12 occurred last Sunday when a four-car crash sent one victim to Shock Trauma. It was the seventh serious accident at the intersection since it was redesigned earlier this year as part of the latest phase of the ongoing dualization of the highway from the Delaware line to its southern terminus south of Pocomoke.

The essential problem with the intersection is the median, at just 24 feet wide, is too narrow to allow crossing traffic to safely stop in the middle after crossing two lanes, forcing drivers to attempt to cross four lanes of traffic.

Earlier this year, the county Board of Education altered several school bus routes to avoid the intersection. Local motorists, including the high volume of poultry, logging and farming truckers that utilize the section of highway are also avoiding the dangerous intersections, creating a new set of problems at different locations along Route 113.

County officials urged the State Highway Administration (SHA) to make changes to the intersection after four accidents in the first 17 days after it re-opened and SHA responded with several minor alterations including more signage, rumble strips, and improved sight lines, for example. While the changes have improved the safety of the intersection somewhat, the carnage continues, forcing the county and local residents to push for even greater safety enhancements.

On several occasions, SHA officials have turned down requests to replace the flashing yellow light with a regular traffic signal, citing studies that show traffic lights on rural highways such as Route 113 only increase the likelihood of more accidents.

While most parties agree the intersection needs to be improved, no one is entirely certain what course of action should be taken. To that end, the Concerned Citizens of Worcester County, a local advocacy group, is hosting a meeting on July 18 at the Snow Hill library to have an open discussion about what can and should be done.

State Delegate Jim Mathias, County Commissioners Virgil Shockley and Bob Cowger, and Concerned Residents Action for Safer Highways (CRASH) President Bob Hulburd have been invited to attend.

Shockley said this week the dualization has inadvertently had the opposite effect than desired.

“The idea was to make it safer, but if you look at the crash statistics from the year before, we’re on track for more accidents at that intersection after the dualization than before the dualization,” he said. “The only thing positive we can say about it is that at least nobody has gotten killed. It would almost be humorous if it wasn’t so tragic.”

While it may be too late for substantial improvements to the intersection of Routes 113 and 12, county officials and local residents are urging the state to ensure the same mistake is not repeated at other intersections along the highway as the dualization continues. The next phase begins just south of Berlin and continues toward Snow Hill for just over three miles, and includes other potential troublesome intersections.

“Not one of us has ever seen those plans,” said Shockley. “We need to see them before a shovel hits the dirt on the next phase.”

The CCWC will be held at the Snow Hill Library from 7:30-9 p.m.