SHA Maintains Intersection Safe Despite Another Crash

SNOW HILL – Another motor vehicle accident at the locally notorious intersection of Routes113 and 12 sent two people to the hospital Wednesday morning.

Around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, a Chevy Camaro traveling south on Rt. 12 failed to yield to oncoming traffic when attempting to cross Route 113.

A van traveling south on Route 113 then collided with the Camaro, according to a press release from the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.

The motorists, both adult males, were then taken to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury and Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin.

The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office characterized the drivers’ injuries as “non-life threatening.”

According to Commissioner Virgil Shockley, an outspoken critic of that particular intersection design, at least 18 motor vehicle accidents involving personal injury have occurred at the Routes.113 and 12 intersection since it opened to traffic in December 2006.

Wednesday’s accident was the 18th incident at that intersection to send motorists to local hospitals, said Shockley, who has been tracking accidents at that location.

“This is ridiculous,” said Shockley.

The cause of the accident Wednesday morning appears to be driver error.

“I don’t know what to do to change driver error,” said State Highway Administration District Engineer Donnie Drewer.

Accidents not involving an ambulance call are difficult to track, and the number of minor accidents at that intersection is unclear.

At least 30 vehicles have been totaled in accidents at that junction, causing half a million dollars in vehicle insurance claims, Shockley said. One incident totaled a tractor-trailer and a county-owned dump truck.

The intersection has become notorious for accidents over the last two and a half years since the redesign was opened to the public.

“It’s certainly been way reduced, reduced a lot,” said Drewer of the accident rate at Routes 12 and 113.

No one has been killed at 113 and 12, but critics say it is just a matter of time.

The Routes 12 and 113 intersection improvements, part of the dualization of Route 113, opened to traffic on Dec. 19, 2006 and saw four accidents in the next 17 days.

A total of 14 accidents occurred at the junction of those two roads in the first year. The year before the improvements were made saw only eight accidents at that intersection.

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) looked into a traffic light at the site shortly after it was opened to traffic and after the rapid number of accidents at the site.

The state agency concluded that a traffic light was not required by the amount of traffic traversing the intersection.

Drewer said that SHA has conducted several traffic studies at the intersection. The first took place before the reconstruction of the intersection, while the other two were conducted after construction was complete.

“It’s not warranted,” said Drewer. “We’ve done three traffic studies there for a traffic signal and it’s not even close.”

Some minor improvements were made to sightlines around the intersection after the county began to complain to the state about the number of accidents at that inctersection, and a sign was erected instructing motorists to “look again”. The “look again” sign was knocked down by a motorist shortly thereafter.

“If there was something else we could do, we’d do it,” said Drewer.

The median there on Route 113 is too narrow, critics contend and does not allow safe crossing of the well-used highway, an assessment that elected officials and traffic activists alerted SHA to months before when the design of the intersection became clear.

The Worcester County Board of Education reconfigured area bus routes to avoid the Routes 113 and 12 intersection.

The only way to really fix that intersection is with an overpass, Shockley has said in the past.

The state plans to construct an overpass at that intersection after all phases of the Route 113 dualization are complete, which will not occur for several years.

Drewer could not commit to even a ballpark timeline for the overpass construction, which is the last phase of the Route 113 dualization. Currently, phase 2A is under construction and phase 2B is funded and ready to go.

Phases 3, 4, and 5 are not even close to being funded, Drewer indicated. 

A traffic light could help in the interim, critics contend. During the first year after the intersection redesign, a petition with more than 700 signatures was submitted to the state, seeking a traffic light