(7/20) The board of commissioners voted 3-1 on July 15,
Commissioner Glenn Blanchard absent, to advise the Maryland State Highway
Administration that the town would rather have
a stoplight at the Silo Hill intersection than a traffic circle.
The Silo Hill intersection represents a convergence of
Silo Hill Road, East Main Street (state Rt. 140), and state Rt. 904F. Westerly,
Route 904F takes traffic to the southbound lane of U.S. 15, while Route 140
provides access to the U.S. 15 northbound lane, and continues on to other
points. To the east of the intersection, Route 140 serves as the main street
Town staff met with the SHA in June to discuss the
possibility of installing a traffic light at the intersection. At that meeting,
town representatives were told they could go with a stoplight or a traffic
Staiger supports roundabout
Board President Christopher V. Staiger said he could
not support the stoplight proposal because it could possibly cause more serious
accidents than a roundabout.
He said not only would a stoplight be unlikely to end
accidents, but also wrecks would more often be of the "T-bone" type, where
vehicles are broadsided by oncoming traffic. Accidents in roundabouts, he
believes, tend to be rear-end collisions at slower speeds.
A roundabout could take up to three years, according to
SHA, with cost estimates discussed at the town meeting ranging up to nearly $1
million. A light could take six to eight months to install at a much lower cost
to the state.
However, Staiger said he believes the multi-year wait
for a roundabout would be worth it. "I hate to see a rush to judgment," he told
the board, adding, that the SHA said the circle was the safer option. In
addition, he noted that there are likely to be severe traffic backups into town
caused by the proposed stoplight. "You'll be fighting with backups at two
lights in town."
Other board members felt that the three-year estimate
for a circle was unrealistic. "We're probably looking at five to ten years,"
Commissioner Clifford Sweeney said.
Call for stoplight approved
Sweeney, in supporting a traffic light, said, "Safety
has to come first. Somebody is going to get killed if something is not done
The board also considered the possibility that the town
could pursue a circle later, once the light is installed, which SHA apparently
indicated was also an option. Staiger said he felt if the light were installed,
the circle option might fall by the way.
Members of the public present and board members said
that a circle could be made attractive and serve as a gateway to the town,
although Sweeney pointed out that the less-than-flat terrain might not be
conducive to a circle.
Mayor James E. Hoover said, "There is no doubt a circle
could be more attractive and look appealing, the sooner we do it (get a light
installed), the safer the intersection will be. "There is a need for something
sooner rather than later."
SHA installed a flashing yellow light in 2003 to
monitor traffic at the intersection, but even with that, the intersection has
still been averaging five reported accidents a year.
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