BERLIN — Plans to manage traffic around the Wal-Mart and Home Depot on Route 50 moved forward this week with the installation of a new signal at Holly Grove Rd. and the entrance to Glen Riddle.
Prior to Tuesday’s new light, another, not yet operational, light was installed west of the shopping center.
“They can move a lot of traffic,” said Maryland State Highway Association (SHA) District Engineer Donnie Drewer of the new signals.
Drewer explained that the goal of the signal switch-up is to improve efficiency at a busy location. During the summer season, Route 50 will often be filled for miles with vehicles attempting to leave or enter Ocean City, usually clogging either the east or west bound lanes, depending on the time of the week. While the new lights won’t be able to take a significant bite out of the overall traffic problem, Drewer said that customers visiting the big box stores should find their trip a bit easier.
“It’ll just manage traffic going into the shopping center,” he said.
An additional benefit that will hopefully follow the activation of the signal at Route 50 and Glen Riddle in the near future is a reduction of accidents. The spot has had safety issues in the past, including a crash that resulted in two fatalities in August 2006.
The light that currently serves as sole entrance and exit point for Wal-Mart and Home Depot will likely be removed once the two new signals come online but will go through a test run before any decisions are made.
“The existing one at Wal-Mart we’re going to evaluate after the signal at Holly Grove is in place for about a year,” said Drewer.
Drewer explained that SHA wants to be sure that the two new lights will be able to handle traffic by themselves. But Drewer is already reasonably sure that the evaluation will find the current light unnecessary.
“It’s going to go away eventually,” he said.
Until that time, once the new lights come online, the shopping center signal will operate in a diminished capacity.
“Initially, it’ll just serve left turns,” Drewer said.
Drewer added that with the new light setup, drivers “won’t be able to do what [they] do now and go westbound” from the current light once the others are in place.
However, between the light at Holly Grove and the signal further west, Drewer was confident that traffic circulation will be improved for vehicles coming from either direction.