(Feb. 15, 2013) In response to pressure from residents, county leaders and state representatives from the Lower Shore, an accident-prone Snow Hill intersection will get a traffic signal.
Delegate Mike McDermott issued a press release Tuesday evening stating, “The Maryland Department of Transportation finally recognized the dire need for a traffic signal at the US 113 MD 12 intersection. Snow Hill residents and travelers can now rest assure (sic) that their travels through that area will be much safer.”
Worcester County Commissioner Virgil Shockley, who represents Snow Hill, said Wednesday morning that he had not seen the letter.
“This is great if it’s what they’ve done,” Shockley said.
He also said that Donnie Drewer, the district engineer for the State Highway Administration, is scheduled to be at Tuesday’s meeting of the Worcester County Commissioners “to tell us exactly what they’ve decided.”
Later Wednesday morning, Sen. Jim Mathias corroborated McDermott’s statement.
“Yes, I can confirm a light is coming,” Mathias said. “They are going to put it in by mid-July.”
Ultimate plans call for an overpass at the intersection, but until funds are available for that major improvement, “they decided this was the right thing to do.”
Later that day, Mathias issued a press release, stating that the intersection “has long been an area of concern for our community, and the site of far too many unfortunate fatalities and injuries.”
Getting a traffic light at the intersection was a team effort that included the contributions of the Worcester County Commissioners, Darrell Mobley, acting secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administrator Melinda Peters and Drewer, Mathias stated.
“I am grateful for their effective support and attention to this effort and remain committed with our team to accomplish an even safer Rt. 113 and regional roadways in the area,” Mathias stated. “It is my goal that these efforts can avoid further tragedies in our community.”
In the letter sent to members of the Lower Shore Delegation, Mobley wrote that “after careful consideration of the immediate safety concerns and community feedback, I am pleased to inform you that SHA’s review has determined that a fully operating traffic signal should replace the existing flashing beacon at the US 113 and MD 12 intersection. SHA found that a signal is needed based on projected 2013 traffic counts and current 2012 crash data just obtained from Maryland State Police.”
Numerous collisions have occurred at that intersection and Shockley has said more than half of them occurred after the State Highway Administration made that section of Route 113 a divided four-lane highway without providing sufficient space for vehicles to safely stop between the north and south lanes.
In an attempt to remedy that situation, the SHA conducted a traffic study, at the behest of the county commissioners in 2011, and announced plans several months ago to install J-turns at the intersection.
Such turns are safer, Drewer has said, because they eliminate cross traffic, thereby eliminating collisions in the median. J-turns would direct traffic away from the intersection. Instead of driving across Route 113, motorists on Route 12 who want to continue on Route 12 on the opposite side of the highway, would turn right onto Route 113 and then make a later turn left to reach the continuation of Route 12.
Last fall, Drewer met with approximately 100 Snow Hill residents and many of them voiced strong opposition to the plan to install J-turns. They wanted a traffic signal.
It would be easier for drivers, especially drivers of large farm vehicles and tractor-trailers, on Route 12 to stop at a traffic signal at the intersection and then drive straight across Route 113 to continue driving on Route 12, residents told Drewer.
Following that meeting, the commissioners wrote again to the Department of Transportation about the dangerous intersection. Shockley said Wednesday that the letter was “about the fifth” they had sent asking for improvements to make the intersection safer. The commissioners also asked Sen. Jim Mathias and Delegates Norman Conway and McDermott to send similar letters.
In response, Mobley wrote to the commissioners in January that the State Highway Administration would re-evaluate its decision to install J-turns. That re-evaluation led to the decision to install a traffic signal.
The commissioners had also asked for a traffic light at Route 113 and Route 365, or Public Landing Road, but Mobley’s letter said that the State Highway Administration was continuing with its plans to install J-turns at that intersection.
“It is in keeping with the treatment of other similar intersections along this corridor,” Mobley wrote.