Residents along the Maryland Route 3 corridor urged state highway engineers to consider tweaks to the new “Michigan U” traffic pattern, citing continued congestion and motorists running red lights and making illegal turns.
Members of the Crofton and Gambrills communities on Tuesday said the new pattern, which seeks to address the influx of traffic coming from the new Target, Wegman’s and other stores, has befuddled some drivers while adding time to some trips.
“The Michigan U’s are supposed to work in areas where traffic isn’t this bad,” said Bob Brennan, chairman of the Greater Crofton Council (GCC). “This traffic is horrendous.”
The GCC hosted a meeting with about 25 residents and two traffic engineers, Kim Tran and Lee Starkloff of the Maryland State Highway Administration.
The engineers acknowledged some growing pains with the new pattern, but insisted that it has a history of success in other communities, and that residents will get used to it over time.
“It’s a change for people who don’t see it everyday, and it’s very unusual for people who haven’t experienced it before,” Starkloff said.
With the new Michigan U pattern, drivers on Waugh Chapel Road wishing to go north on Route 3 must first head south for several hundred feet then follow a U-Turn. Likewise, motorists wishing to head south from Reidel Road must head north before being directed back.
Starkloff and Tran took copious notes as residents checked off a list of concerns regarding the new pattern. Among them:
- Motorists driving through red lights, possibly due to unclear signage.
- Inadequate signing indicating “no turn on red.”
- Improperly timed lights, making it impossible to get through the U-turn circuit in one pass.
- Poor lighting in some areas.
The engineers said they will look into adding signage and lights, and will work with Anne Arundel County Police to enforce red lights. They said traffic lights should be timed to give motorists plenty of time to make the U-turn circuit, but acknowledged the state was still working to perfect the system.
Tran stressed that the Michigan-U system was designed only to address new traffic stemming from the Waugh Chapel Towne Centre project. She said the intersections along Route 3 were already receiving poor grades.
“Since they were already failing, we don’t ask [the developer] to fix it,” Tran said. “We only ask them to not make it worse.”
Residents then raised the issue of potentially widening Route 3 in some areas to accommodate more cars, especially near the interchange with Interstate 97. Starkloff said that the state has not considered widening the road, because residents had previously opposed it. But, he said it may be possible to add a lane by repainting traffic lines without actually widening the road.
Starkloff also said residents would face an uphill battle in getting state money for a major capital upgrade to Route 3, in part because the county has instead pushed for improvements to Maryland Route 175 and Maryland Route 170 near Fort Meade.
“We have very little money for new capital road projects,” Starkloff said.