- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A little more than a year ago, May 4, 2011, I sent the following letter to the editor, copying the St. Mary’s County commissioners, State Highway Administration and the Maryland Department of Transportation:
“This letter is to inform you of a dangerous situation here in southern St. Mary’s County. Every motorcyclist is familiar with the term ‘tar snake.’ This refers to the hot patch the state roads administration uses to fix cracks on highways. These patches are very slippery when wet, and treacherous when the weather warms up and the road surface gets hot.
“Most of the time these can be avoided, or driven around; not so on the southbound stretch of Route 5, from Great Mills Road to Route 489 in Park Hall. Practically the entire surface of the road is covered in places. One day last week the ambient temperature was in the upper 70s, my bike danced all over the lane, and momentarily lost traction slipping sideways, around every slight corner.
“I’ve been riding for more than 40 years and have never seen a road coated this extensively. This movement and momentary loss of traction is very unsettling, and dangerous, for an experienced rider. For someone inexperienced or just learning, it is an accident waiting to happen. As the weather warms up more and more motorcyclist use this section of road, many from out of town, traveling to St. Mary’s City or Point Lookout. In it’s current condition, an accident is inevitable, and the state roads administration will be at fault.
“Please have someone look into this, and come up with a fix, as soon as possible. The life you save may be someone you know. Thank you.”
That same day, I got a response from County Commissioner Todd Morgan; George Erichsen, director of the St. Mary’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation; Sarah Cannavo of the county administrator’s office; and Karen Saab, forwarded to Lee Starkloff, SHA district engineer.
After I sent the above letter I came upon an accident that summer, southbound lane of Route 5 near what used to be Thompson’s orchard, where a motorcyclist had just died, in a left-hand downhill heavily patched corner. I do not know if the road surface contributed to his death, but it was a hot day, the tar patches were loose and it seems very coincidental to me.
This year I have seen many secondary roads in Southern Maryland resurfaced — Wynne Road, Snow Hill Road, Indian Bridge Road to name a few — yet this hazardous section of Point Lookout Road, one of two major roads to the southern section of the county, has been completely ignored. Why?
Once again, many motorcyclists from in and out of the county use this road traveling south. Fixing this section of Point Lookout Road should have been a priority last year, and it should have been at the top of the list this year. I did not know the motorcyclist that died on this section of road last summer, but someone did, I’m sure his family was devastated. The last line in my 2011 letter still holds true.
Jim Jorden, Lexington Park