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June 22, 2010

Deadly Hayward Intersection

Roy Meachum

Patience came to me, as I older grow. Maybe it’s a natural tendency to slow things down in the twilight years.


Going to knee surgeon Bobby Fisher means driving up U.S.15 to the Hayward Road intersection, and turning left, which I now do carefully – after waiting – to be sure the road is clear. Previously I paused and darted right between oncoming cars and trucks.


The intersection’s record continues to be engraved with bloody and sometimes deadly accidents. The victims’ list provides politicians ample grist to elevate their loud voices, without raising real campaign issues. Looking for solutions to the problem turned into a cottage industry before our very eyes. The arguments’ back-and-forth exhaust me.


The prevailing “fix” holds the whole mess can be avoided by constructing a bridge over U.S.15. That way tractor-trailers hovering around – or above – the legal speed could find no targets. Understand, the funds to build the span would not be available until next spring, we are told. God only knows how long before the bridge opens. The cost tag is estimated to be $100 million. Not an easy amount in even a recovering economy. Publisher and Editor John Ashbury explained it’s a lot more complicated: “…the current plan by the State Highway Administration is to build a cloverleaf at U.S.15 and Monocacy Boulevard. Thus northbound traffic would exit, cross over U.S.15 on a new elevated road (bridge) to take Christopher’s Crossing to Hayward Road.”


While Frederick waits for this $100 million pie-in-the-sky, as I understand cars and trucks would be shunted to a right lane that would venture off-road, turning across the highway; presumably a traffic light would be erected at the dangerous corner. Of course, you may very well wonder why there is no light there now. Sheriff’s deputies and state police have been ordered to pay closer attention; still they’re no substitute for the lights.


“A light on U.S. 15 would be the only one between Gettysburg and Point of Rocks,” John wrote.”


And he added: “Not likely to happen.”


Under the present circumstances, Frederick motorists have no choice. To come the other way to reach an appointment people face continuing confusion: Opossumtown Pike sits a long way removed from Hayward; the intersection where it meets Thomas Johnson Drive has all-day long the kind of traffic jam that backs up in rush hour on Market Street, close to I-270. During the daily overload, I try to walk dear Pushkin, write and anything that comes to mind to avoid going south.


Fortunately, the East Street addition enables me to reach Costco, with a hey-folks-no-stopping glee! Of course, more and more autos find their way to the bypass every day. But the marvelous design, complete with round-about, slows them down. The other day a driver behind me sat on his horn. He almost certainly speeded up; he was not there when I checked rearview and side mirrors.


In any event, Hayward Road is in the completely different direction, on the other side of town. The crisis drags on. We can ask how many men, women and children must be maimed and killed until the State Highway Administration moves itself to cope? So far there’s been no motion from SHA bureaucrats?


Two weeks ago a three-vehicle crash was caused by a driver changing her mind about making the Hayward turn, the card swerved right directly into a path of a speeding truck. There’s no cure for that. Confusion among motorists, bureaucrats cannot solve.


Hey, State Highway Administration, do something! Anything! We need to know you care about the dangers and the victims.



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