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Residents Question Engineers on Route 3 Traffic Pattern

The Greater Crofton Council hosted a forum on the new "Michigan U" system.

Residents along the Maryland Route 3 corridor urged state highway engineers to consider tweaks to the new , 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 , 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.

A Pishvaei March 14, 2012 at 03:16 PM
I Hate it..... You go from a LIGHT to a TURN to a LIGHT and a TURN and then get to ANOTHER LIGHT Who invented this?!
John March 14, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Hate it enough where I no longer go down Waugh Chapel to take a left on Rt 3. Now I cut across and take 175.
Justin March 14, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Why did they not just build an overpass? I make a right everyday around 5pm from Reidel and the traffic from 3 is blocking the light by the time you get through the intersection you get stuck at the light for the "U". l sit and wait for another 5 minutes then sit again at Waugh Chapel on average my 3 mile trip home takes 15 minutes. Before it took 5 minutes. Thanks Greater Crofton Council!
Alan Simpson March 14, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I love it. I think going left onto rt 3 north is much faster and easier than before. I used to avoid that intersection if going north, but now I use it all the time. If everyone else would pay attention and read the signs there wouldn't be an issue.
Justin March 14, 2012 at 04:13 PM
they should hold the Grand Prix, we have enough turns and a circle track
Susan Kim March 14, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I hate the Michigan U's but I doubt anything will be done about them. I avoid Waugh Chapel or go early in the day when traffic is lighter.
Deb March 14, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I tend to cut through on Dairy Farm to Route 175 to avoid the mess when I need to go north on Route 3. Question though. If you do use the Michigan U, when sitting at the light to actually get on Route 3 North, aren't you allowed to turn left on red (when clear) since you are on a one way and getting onto another one way. That's how I interpret Maryland law on left on red at least.
Raif10 March 14, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Well of course it's almost unversally unpopular. 90% of Odington drivers can't negotiate a simple roundabout without twenty signs, lane markers and speed bumps every ten feet. I imagine a lot of residents think the new intersection on the three might actually steal their souls. Seriously, these things work if you just read the signs.
Cecilia Pfau March 15, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Coming from a different part of the country where roadways make sense, I've always thought the engineers in this part of the country must be high on wacky tobaccy.
Justin March 15, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Raif10- Have you driven the "u" it is not about the signs it is about the amount of time it takes to go through each light, and Odington is spelt Odenton.
Raif10 March 15, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Yes but that's how it's pronounced by long term residents. And I have driven the new intersection. It's a net decrease in time due to the dispersion of traffic metering over several distributed points rather than one monolithic four way stop. The number of left turning collisions is dramatically reduced as well, and as an added bonus the amount of green light time overall is increased.
Sue March 15, 2012 at 11:56 AM
'Spelt' isn't a word. It's spelled.
Marc Riley March 15, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Maryland drivers suck in general...even the concept of a traffic circle confuses everyone if it's more than one lane. Blame it on impatience and a lack of driving abilities. It won't get better, no matter what is put in here. People drive too fast and still use their phones while driving. Everything will remain the same with the roads, because it's a system that WORKS. What needs to change is the attitude of drivers. Really
Marc Riley March 15, 2012 at 12:30 PM
I applaud you. Instead of bitching about it, you adjust to make it better. :)
Marc Riley March 15, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Key words..."pay attention and read the signs". Excellent.
Jenn March 15, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Quoted from article: 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.” DOESN'T ANYONE SEE THE FLAW IN THIS MENTALITY?? Maddening. This kind of attitude toward traffic problems in particular is dangerous and potentially deadly. Don't put a band-aid on the problem. Spend the extra minimal percentage of cost and actually FIX the failure. What a concept!! I only pray people "...get used to it over time..." before more lives are lost on Route 3.
Dave March 15, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I used to be able to make a right turn on red when going from Waugh Chapel to Rt 3 south. Now I sit through a light when there is no traffic coming. Brilliant. When crossing Rt 3, I get to go through 3 lights and u-turn now. Brilliant. So when there is a fire on the west side of Rt 3, how does a fire truck get there? Brilliant. How much did this little project cost that accomplished nothing? Brilliant.
Joshua Michael March 16, 2012 at 06:00 AM
The new system is designed to make the route three traffic north and south bound as fast as possible. That means making each red light more efficient in terms of getting those crossing the road thru at the same time so the main route 3 traffic doesnt sit at a light as long. With the previous set up at waugh chapel and Route three you had two or three different groupings of lights going red and green to get to the main road back to green leading to massive backups at those lights by the main route 3 traffic. Now the main Waugh chapel route 3 intersection has one cycle allowing those going onto Waugh chapel towards crofton as well as those going towards odenton on waugh chapel to move at the same time, thus cutting down on the time that people moving on route three sit at a light for cycles of lights at each intersection. I dont think the intent was to make the people making left and right turns faster but instead trying to get the most traffic thru the area in the shortest time without building five lanes on each side all the way thru crofton. On off peak times they should though adjust the time that people sit at those intersections though because congestion is less of an issue.
Tony M. March 16, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Dave, there is a an emergency vehicle pass-through in the intersection that works quite nicely. I experienced it up close the other day.
Tony M. March 16, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Also, Joshua has it exactly correct. It is all about throughput on Rt 3. I see a marked improvement in Rt 3 flow as I commute through Waugh Chapel everyday. I'm sure the GCC will have an engineer attend an upcoming meeting carrying stats on how the Michigan U setup is working. Now, if we can change the loss of a travel lane at Franklin's (northbound) and the funeral home (southbound), Rt 3 would be even more improved.
craig g March 16, 2012 at 10:24 PM
First off, speaking as a native Michigander I would appreciate if people would stop referring to this as a "Michigan U" - this mish-mash is entirely a creation of the Maryland MVA. It may look somewhat like a Michigan U however I have never seen a Michigan U where through traffic is required to make three turns just to get from one side of the road to the other (for that matter neither my mother, who has been driving in Michigan for more than 60 years). If in fact the goal is to maximize throughput on Route 3 then rather than a Michigan U perhaps the SHA should have followed the Texas model - build an overpass so that through traffic on Rt 3 never sees a traffic light at all, then add dedicated U-turn lanes on either side of the cross-traffic lanes so as to minimize the number of instances where one traffic stream crosses another.
Kat June 18, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Sue is wrong. "Spelt" is perfectly correct. Look it up if you don't believe it!

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