- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
First, I would like to thank The Enterprise for the June 13 editorial about the need for a traffic light at Wildewood Parkway and Route 4. We sincerely appreciate the support effort given by your staff. It is obvious that you clearly understand our predicament and the issues concerning this situation.
However, what does it take to get these points across to the State Highway Administration? In a June 20 letter, Lee Starkloff, Maryland State Highway Administration district engineer, has intimated that traffic signal decisions are not based on emotion or perceptions. This is clearly not a situation based on emotion or perceptions. It is a situation based on plain common sense and good safety practices. All of the rules and regulations and various guidelines employed by the Highway Administration are not cast in concrete. There can be, and are, exceptions to most everything and this situation clearly lends itself well to being an exception.
In a personal letter to me, Mr. Starkloff said that they have “conducted an analysis that indicates that the installation of a traffic signal is not justified at this location.” He also added that for traffic signal analysis, the state uses criteria set forth by the nationally accepted Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as a guide. The manual indicates whether or not a traffic signal control should be considered if certain conditions exist. The evaluation takes into account traffic volumes along all approaches, speeds, intersection geometrics, pedestrian activity and accident history.
Although no one has been killed at this intersection to date, it’s only a question of time before this unfortunate event will happen. As far as traffic volumes are concerned, the numbers for this intersection are skewed as a result of many drivers going out of their way to avoid this intersection because of the problems there.
As far as using pedestrian activity as one of the factors for making determinations, this factor can be eliminated by the mere fact that there are no sidewalks at this intersection, hence no pedestrian traffic. However, if someone were to try and cross the road at this intersection, I assure you she would be placing her life into her own hands.
I dispute his statement that the delay at this intersection is typical for this county. The morning traffic going north and evening traffic going south is horrendous and anyone sitting at this intersection trying to get onto Route 4 in either direction would find it next to impossible to do so. There are quite a few elderly individuals in the Wildewood area, myself included, whose reflexes are not that of a younger person. Consequently, additional precautions and preventive measures must be taken into consideration for these individuals.
As you indicated in your editorial, the future addition of 1,500 new homes in Wildewood is eventually going to require that something be done. There have been a series of accidents at this intersection already and it’s only a question of time before one of them is going to result in one or more deaths. It is shameful that it appears as though the state is waiting for a death to occur at this intersection before making a decision to install a traffic signal there. Mr. Starkloff has failed to understand that the perceptions of more than 4,000 people are absolutely real and that the vast majority of them feel that a traffic signal is more than warranted at this intersection. The St. Mary’s County commissioners, in a personal letter to me, are also behind this request .
It is now mandated that new developers are required to pay to install traffic signals and upgrade roads as a condition to fully develop their projects. However, Wildewood was planned well before this new rule was adopted and as a result Wildewood is an exception to it, and will continue to be an exception in the future. Therefore, it appears that no one, including the State Highway Administration, is willing to pay for the bottom line in this case, and that is safety and the elimination of a possible cause for deaths. Someone in the future, however, will pay for it with his life. It’s only a question of time. If that is an emotional statement, Mr. Starkloff, so be it, but it is a perception and perceptions are real.
In view of the fact that the State Highway Administration has formally rejected our plea to have a traffic signal installed at this intersection, my next step it appears will be a letter to the governor and legislators. I prevail upon our county commissioners to please do the same as well as the members of the Wildewood Community Association. This issue is far from being termed as dead. If a letter to the governor doesn’t work, there are steps beyond that which will be taken.
I again wish to express my thanks to the editor and staff of The Enterprise for your concerns of our residents’ safety, and it is our sincere wish that you will continue to do so in the future.
Jack M. Hughes, California
The writer is president of the board of the Wildewood Village Villa Association.