SNOW HILL — A recent fatal crash has the Worcester County Commission demanding safety improvements at a local intersection.
“I’ve heard excuses and quite frankly, I’m fed up,” said County Commissioner Virgil Shockley.
Shockley is leading the charge to have a traffic light installed at the intersection of Routes 113 and 12, where an accident resulted in a fatality last Friday. The crash is hardly the first to occur at the intersection. Shockley estimates upwards of 50 collisions since the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) last made major changes to the road in 2006.
“We’re over 50 [accidents] now … on a section of road that, when they dualized it, was to ‘make it safer,’” he said.
As the representative of the Snow Hill district, which contains the intersection, Shockley said that he has heard “an earful” from concerned constituents about the road and estimated roughly 100 complaints since last week’s accident.
Bob Hulburd, president of County Residents Action for Safer Highways (CRASH) and member of the Board of Education, also has serious issues with the spot in question.
“It’s not a good intersection,” he said.
A long-time advocate of safety on Route 113 after a death of a family member on the road years ago, Hulburd praised the commission’s decision to take more aggressive steps to protect motorists who use that intersection.
“There have been way too many accidents at Route 12 and US 113,” he said.
Shockley called the intersection a “mess” and pointed out that it was too narrow to comfortably accommodate longer vehicles, an opinion Hulburd shared. The current yield sign and additional “look again” sign are not sufficient deterrents, continued Shockley, who has called for an overpass to be built at the intersection from the beginning.
The current request for a stoplight is his concession to the reality that funding is limited at MDOT, though he does eventually want to see an overpass installed.
“An overpass is what we obviously need to solve all of the problems,” he said.
An overpass is something Hulburd also supports and he believes the request for a stoplight is a step in the right direction, despite the fact that MDOT representatives have stated in the past that a light may not be a silver bullet.
“There’s been a history of people killed at that intersection and we need to make that history stop,” Hulburd said.
While Shockley advised that any letter the commission sends to MDOT be worded strongly in terms of the request, he admits that there’s no guarantee the agency will respond. If no steps are taken, Shockley, who was re-elected during the last election cycle, promises to hound MDOT for the remainder of this term of office if not beyond.
“Something is fundamentally wrong with that intersection and the way it was built,” he said. “Three years is a long time to raise hell.”
Kellie Boulware, a representative from the State Highway Administration (SHA) Office of Communications, said that while her agency does not have any definite plans regarding the intersection yet, it will certainly assess the site after this latest accident.
“While local law enforcement performs its own investigation, SHA will look at the intersection and review the location to see if there were any physical circumstances or emerging issues such as sight distance, missing signs, pavement condition, etc.,” she said.