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Three intersections on Route 32 on the road to failing grades


SYKESVILLE -- Engineers who studied rush-hour traffic along state Route 32 around Sykesville have reported that three of the five existing intersections will qualify for the worst rating possible by 1995.

Without any improvements along the highway, the engineers said, the 1995 level of service at the highway's intersections with Springfield Avenue, Raincliffe Road and Sandosky Road, and Main Street in Howard County would be rated an F during peak rush hours, the report said.

L That rating means "long delays and poor traffic operations."

The study was conducted at the request of the town council and planning commission, whose members have become increasingly concerned about growth and development in the town and surrounding areas.

"I'm glad you verified what we've been trying to tell the state for years," Council President Kenneth Clark, told a consultant who gave the report to the council Monday night.

At the town's request, the Maryland State Highway Administration's Frederick district office contracted in April for the study of six intersections along Route 32 during peak morning and evening hours. The intersections were:

* Springfield Avenue

* Main Street (for Springfield Hospital Center) and Cooper Street

* Raincliffe Road and Sandosky Road

* College Road

* Main Street at the Howard County entrance

* Obrecht Road (a future interchange)

The engineers found that the current level of service, or LOS, for the five existing intersections in most cases is fair to poor. The ratings calculations range from A, the best condition with no delays and no traffic conflicts, to F, the worst with long delays and poor traffic operations.

The consultants also projected the area's future traffic volumes for 1995, based on a 2 percent annual growth rate for the town.

The only planned major improvements to the area now are the Obrecht Road realignment to Route 32 just north of the Springfield Avenue exit, slated for 1994, and the addition of turning lanes at Raincliffe Road for the Raincliffe Business Center.

Based on the 1995 projections, the report recommended several improvements:

* Using the shoulders along Route 32 from south of College Road to north of Obrecht Road to provide for two additional through lanes of traffic.

The study noted that no funding for this project is available.

* Put a traffic signal at the future Obrecht Road and Route 32 intersection.

* Widen Sandosky Road at Route 32 to three lanes.

* Widen and stripe Main Street in Howard County at Route 32 to provide for a left turn and right turn lane with an acceleration lane on southbound Route 32.

"With the improvements recommended, the new lane configurations would bring the LOS up to 'D' or better, with the majority being 'A' and 'B'," said Eileen M. Bennett of Johnson, Mirmiram and Thompson, the engineering firm that did the study.

32 [in the Sykesville area] should also be considered for upgrade to a dualized facility in the future, although at this time there is no SHA funding available for the widening," the report concluded. "It is, however, included in the SHA 20 Years Needs Study."

But Gene Straub, the agency's district engineer in Frederick, said the process for a major project, such as widening Route 32, can easily take six to seven years.

"The elected delegation to Carroll County would have to submit the project to the Department of Transportation and it would need to be very high on DOT's list of priorities," Mr. Straub said.

Planning studies, public hearings, information meetings, highway design and land or right-of-way acquisition and construction would draw out the project, he said.

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