WEST OCEAN CITY – Motorists traveling near the commercial harbor in West Ocean City will notice a new four-way stop at the intersection of Sunset Avenue and Golf Course Road.
The Worcester County Commissioners agreed this week to have stop signs added to Golf Course Road at the intersection so that it is now an all-way stop. Commissioner Bud Church, who represents that district, said he was eager to see the change take place.
“There have been several very serious accidents at that intersection,” he said.
The vote to install the four-way stop came after a presentation from John Tustin, the county’s public works director, at Tuesday’s meeting of the county commissioners. Tustin said that generally, multi-way stops were used when the volume of traffic on all of the approaches to an intersection were equal. According to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, before a four-way stop is installed there should be an average of 300 vehicles per hour on the major street (Golf Course Road) and at least 200 vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles per hour on the minor street (Sunset Avenue).
Tustin said under those guidelines, the intersection qualified for a four-way stop.
“The criteria is there,” he said.
He said he’d also looked at the intersection of Golf Course Road and Old Bridge Road. There, he said there were at least 300 vehicles an hour on the major street, as that was Golf Course Road, but that based on 2005 counts there wasn’t enough traffic on Old Bridge Road to merit one. He added, however, the he would continue to monitor the intersection to see if conditions had changed.
Church said the four-way stop at the Sunset Avenue intersection had long been requested by area residents. He said that while no stop sign was needed there during the winter, between May and October traffic multiplied.
“That’s like a freeway through there,” he said.
Commissioner Ted Elder agreed.
“I’ve been caught in that traffic before and couldn’t get out,” he said. “In the summer it’s bad.”
Franky Pettolina, president of the Marlin Club — one of the properties closest to the Sunset Avenue intersection — said he was thrilled to see the new stop signs being installed on Wednesday.
“They needed to do something there,” he said, adding that he thought a stop light might be necessary in the future. “I just hope people know how to use a four-way stop and it doesn’t make a bigger problem.”
Pettolina said he thought the intersection was always difficult to get through but was exceptionally bad during the summer, as traffic travels to and from the various restaurants in the area and the boat slips at the commercial harbor. He added that the Old Bridge Road intersection was also seeing more and more vehicles as people took the side road to avoid Route 50.
“These roads weren’t designed for the volume of traffic that’s there now, “he said.