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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.

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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