As the vacation season kicks into high gear, so does the traffic at one of our favorite local summer retreats -- Ocean City.
With the summer onslaught, some residents near the Worcester County resort believe that more traffic lights should be installed and working properly in and around Ocean City.
Case in point: the flashing signal at the intersection of Route 90 and Saint Martins Neck Road, just west of Ocean City and one of its main entrances.
"The light there has never been on full operation," said John N. Dittman Jr., who owns a vacation home in nearby Bishopville. "This light is always in the flashing mode."
Although the signal flashes frequently, it is not always in that mode. Chuck Brown of the State Highway Administration said the signal flashes yellow to Route 90 traffic and red to Saint Martins Neck Road cars until traffic on Route 90 reaches a "threshold" of 1,275 cars per hour.
"Then it goes into full activation," Mr. Brown said, adding that the signal also is fully activated on Saturdays and Sundays from July 1 through the Labor Day weekend.
The signal was installed in spring 1994 after several collisions and the SHA's attempt to improve safety on the highway. Median rumble strips and lane markings also were installed in both directions of the two-lane road.
Year-round, about 12,775 cars travel on Route 90 daily.
More traffic lights urged for Columbia
Peter Winahs, an insurance salesman whose district includes Columbia in Howard County, drives regularly through the city's neighborhoods of Longfellow, Faulkner Ridge, Running Brook, Swansfield and Thunder Hill, to name a few.
The traffic in the communities is usually moderate, he said, and mostly "stop-and-go" regulated almost entirely by stop signs.
But certain locations in Columbia would warrant a traffic signal to "make it less stop and go," he said.
"I probably can count on one hand how many lights there are in Columbia that aren't near The Mall," Mr. Winahs said. "Stop signs are nice, but wouldn't the traffic flow be better with lights?
"At stop signs, it's 'I go, then you go; then we go, then you go.' Why not let us all go at once, and then let them all go at once?"
George Frangos, a county traffic engineer, said traffic in Columbia's neighborhoods is not sufficient to justify traffic signals in each neighborhood. Indeed, The Intrepid Roadster often motors through Columbia and hasn't seen much of a need for traffic signals.
In fact, we're usually content to just peruse Columbia's wonderful street and road signs -- such as "Traffic Calming Ahead," "Waiting Spring Road" and "Morning Glory Court."
Construction begins on Beltway ramp
Hoping to improve traffic flow on the ramp of the inner loop at Beltway Exit 26 in Towson, the SHA has begun work to widen 600 feet of the inner loop ramp to West Road, widen another 700 feet of eastbound West Road at the ramp and install a traffic signal at the end of the ramp and West Road, where there is a flashing signal.
But fear not, commuters. During construction, which began last week, single-lane closures on West Road will occur only during off-peak hours, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays. And, although one of the two lanes of traffic will be closed, flagpersons will direct motorists through the intersection. The Beltway will not be affected.
Chuck Brown of the SHA said the wider ramps will minimize rush-hour backups and improve traffic flow. The project is expected to be completed in November, weather permitting.
New traffic signal installed in Canton
We recently learned that a traffic signal was installed at Boston and South Conkling streets in Canton. Could traffic be that heavy in the mostly industrial district of southeast Baltimore to warrant signals?
Possibly. The signal, which will be in operation in about three weeks, was installed to help with expected traffic congestion during the reconstruction of Boston Street, according to Vanessa C. Pyatt, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Public Works.
The signal will be timed to work in conjunction with the one at nearby Conkling and O'Donnell streets.
After two months, Intrepidmobile tagged
News almost worthy of the front page: Tags for The Intrepidmobile arrived last week, and we now drive legally.
The tags came almost two months after we bought the car, six weeks after the dealer promised us tags would come and three weeks after the cardboard temporaries expired and nearly rotted away.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Write to the Intrepid Commuter, c/o The Baltimore Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278. Please include your name and telephone number so we can reach you if we have any questions.
Or use your Touch-Tone phone to call Sundial, The Baltimore Sun's telephone information service, at 783-1800, and enter Ext. 4305. Call 268-7736 in Anne Arundel County.