In the wake of Friday’s double-fatal accident on the Bel Air Bypass, Harford County elected officials have launched a focused effort requesting the Maryland State Highway Administration and Department of Transportation to take action and initiate a study or approve funding for the construction of protective median barriers along what they call a “dangerous highway.”
While each of the letters asks the state to move quickly on building a median barrier at the crash site, one letter from a contingent of Harford officials asks Gov. Martin O’Malley specifically to cancel plans to construct a roundabout on Route 155 in Level and funnel that money instead into a median barrier on the Bel Air Bypass.
From Sen. Glassman’s office, a press release calling the conditions on the Bel Air Bypass “a dangerous combination without a barrier”:
Northern Harford Senator Supports Calls for a Jersey-Barrier at Crash Site
Annapolis,MD Harford County State Senator Barry Glassman R- 35 has requested that the MD State Highway Administration look at installing a jersey barrier in the median of the Bel Air By-Pass where Friday’s double fatal occurred.
The Senator has observed the increasing traffic and speeds on that stretch of roadway which has two lanes in each direction without any median controls. “I just think the volume and speeds in that area is making for a danger combination without a barrier.” commented the Senator who’s District includes the Town of Bel Air. Glassman said many members of the local delegation and County Executive David Craig has also been in contact with the MD Department of Transportation.
After a traffic study is complete, officials are hopeful funds can be identified to begin the work.
In another letter also provided to The Dagger, Del. Stifler implores Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari to consider construction of a Bel Air Bypass median barrier as quickly as possible.
Dear Secretary Porcari:
As you are undoubtedly aware, a fatal accident occurred this past Friday evening, November 7, on the Bel Air Bypass North in Harford County. Tragically, a mother and her child were killed, while the husband and father of these victims remains in critical condition. Other drivers and their passengers were also injured. Unfortunately, this is the most recent and devastating of other accidents that have taken place at this exact juncture over the past months.
In order to prevent future such tragedies, I am recommending the construction of a median barrier to separate the oppositional traffic that travels this portion of dangerous highway. This particular stretch of road serves a huge volume of traffic traveling from Bel Air’s commercial center into the northern parts of the county. Vehicles travel at a comparatively high rate of speed (the posted limit is 50 miles per hour) and in close proximity in two single lanes proceeding in opposite directions. Simply reducing the speed limit will not effect the safety changes that are needed. I believe that this median is an investment that is warranted and, indeed, absolutely necessary to protect the safety of motorists traveling this highway.
I strongly encourage you to consider the construction of this barrier as quickly as possible. I know that I speak not only for my constituents but also for all citizens of the area in broaching this request.
Thank you for your service to the state of Maryland and for your consideration of this crucial matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require additional information.
Delegate, District 35A
In another letter, sent to Gov. Martin O’Malley and signed by County Executive Craig, Council President Boniface and a host of state legislators, the state is asked cancel plans to construct a roundabout on Route 155 in Level and funnel that money instead into a median barrier on the Bel Air Bypass.
Dear Governor O’Malley,
On Friday, November 7, 2008 Harford County was saddened to see the loss of the life of a mother and her ten year old son on a state road in our county. The accident also required three people to be medivaced to Maryland hospitals, where they remain in serious condition, and caused local authorities to divert traffic for several hours.
The accident occurred on the Bel Air bypass, a high-traffic route that takes traffic on Maryland Route 1 around the town of Bel Air. The bypass is a dedicated highway with traffic often traveling in excess of the 55 mph posted speed limit. Accidents are not rare on this stretch of road, and another fatal accident occurred close to the location of Friday’s tragedy only two years ago.
Despite the high rates of speed, high volume of traffic, and unacceptable loss of life along this road, it has not been improved in some time. The north and south lanes run along the same road without division between them.
It is the suggestion and request of the undersigned representatives of this stretch of Maryland highway that a jersey wall be immediately constructed along the Bel Air bypass. With our current tough fiscal budgeting, the funding for this request could be hard to find. Since it is our belief that this project demands the highest priority, it is our suggestion that the plans to construct a roundabout on Maryland Route 155 in Level be canceled, and that the funds be appropriated for the improvement of the more dangerous Harford County road on the Bel Air bypass.
David R. Craig, Harford County Executive
William Boniface, Harford County Council President
Barry Glassman, Senator, Distirct 35, Harford County
H. Wayne Norman, Delegate, District 35A, Harford County
Susan K. McComas, Delegate, District 35B, Harford County