Workers are currently installing the foundations for what will be a new traffic signal at the intersection of Harford and Connolly roads in Fallston, along one of western Harford County's most heavily traveled commuter routes.
"[It] will really help improve intersection operations through that area and will also improve safety, of course," State Highway Administration spokesperson Charlie Gischlar said Monday.
Work on infrastructure for the signal, including support poles, mast arms and the signal itself, should be completed by early fall, Gischlar said.
The signal will replace stop signs controlling motorist approaching the intersection from each direction on Connolly Road.
A right-turn lane will be built so traffic heading north from Route 152 toward Bel Air can turn right on Connolly, and "to keep the traffic moving through" on Harford, Gischlar said.
Once installed, the new signal new will flash for 72 hours before it goes live — the Harford Road side will flash amber, warning motorists to drive with caution, and the Connolly Road side will flash red, warning motorists to stop like at a stop sign, he said.
The full project, including the traffic signal and road improvements, is expected to cost $700,000, Gischlar said.
An average of more than 14,000 vehicles a day travel along Harford Road between Route 152 and the intersection with Route 1, he said. Harford Road (Route 147) ends where Route 1 splits into the Bel Air Bypass and Business Route 1, the latter heading toward downtown Bel Air.
There is extensive commercial development at the Harford Road/Route 1 intersection, such as the Jones Junction auto dealerships, as well as the Maryland State Police Bel Air barrack. The Jones complex also runs south along Harford Road to Connolly.
Residential development is also happening in the area much of it in the form of the Hamilton Reserve community along Harford Road north of Route 152 and south of Connolly, where upward of 70 single family homes are planned, and some samples are under construction.
Gischlar, however, said the new traffic signal is not related to the planned residential development. Rather, he said, the SHA has been studying traffic patterns in the area, which "gets very busy," for several years.
"It was determined a traffic signal would be the best appliance to install to help reduce congestion and improve safety," he said.
The signal at Connolly Road will be put "in series" with the lights at Route 152 and Route 1 so they work in conjunction with each other, Gischlar said.
Traffic heads downhill when going toward Route 1. Gischlar said the SHA typically pre-treats state-maintained roads, such as Harford Road, during the winter if snow or ice is expected.
"In the wintertime, we'll have to just continue our messaging of, 'Everyone drive safely, drive slow in the snow,'" he said.
He encouraged drivers to plan a little extra time for their commutes while the signal is being constructed, as one lane might be closed between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
"A lot of the work is going to take place off the road, but there's going to be occasional single-lane closures," Gischlar said.