Residents of Savage waiting for the state to reopen part of a Route 32 exit ramp will have to wait some more.
During a meeting last night, State Highway Administration engineers told a group of about 30 Savage residents that they did not want to reopen the 100-foot strip of roadway off the Route 32 east exit ramp, which was closed July 30 to reduce accidents.
Reopening the ramp "is something we do not really favor," said Gene Straub, an assistant district engineer for the highway administration, which has spent a month studying traffic patterns at the Route 32-U.S. 1 interchange.
Originally, motorists used the 100-foot strip of roadway, called a slip ramp, as a merger lane onto U.S. 1 after exiting eastbound Route 32. That strip let motorists bypass a stop sign at the end of the Route 32 exit ramp to U.S. 1.
Because of the changed traffic pattern, motorists exiting eastbound Route 32 into Savage now must stop at the sign before moving onto U.S. 1. That means they also must sit behind tractor-trailers stopped at the sign and waiting to cross U.S. 1 to get into an industrial park.
State highway engineers want to replace the stop sign with a traffic light, which they believe will reduce accidents and congestion at the Route 32 interchange. But that does not satisfy some county officials and Savage residents.
"This is awful," said County Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, who used to live in Savage and represents the community.
Ms. Pendergrass said she wanted state highway engineers to prepare long-term plans that would be acceptable to both the state and the residents.
"You've given us A, B, C and D, but there are other plans," said Savage resident Arnold Alndvoigt.
Residents and state highway officials did agree that trucks headed for the industrial park could use the Dorsey Run Road exit to the east of U.S. 1 rather than the Route 32-U.S. 1 exit. Trucks doing this add about a mile and a half to their trip as they double back to the industrial park.
Traffic engineers say that motorists attempting to merge onto U.S. 1 sometimes rear-ended vehicles stopped at the Howard Street traffic light. Because of those and other accidents on U.S. 1 between Route 32 and Howard Street, the highway administration designated the area a "high accident location."
Any section of a state roadway that has 15 or more accidents a year is considered a high accident location.
In 1991, the highway administration reported 21 accidents on U.S. 1 between Route 32 and Howard Street. In 1992, the highway administration reported 15 accidents. This year there were 10 accidents reported but none since the ramp was closed.