|Use of berm as travel
lane is given tentative approval
* Shoulder of part of Rt. 8 will be used during major traffic jams
By: KONRAD SUROWIEC , Staff Writer 04/30/2004
CENTREVILLE- The Queen Anne's County Commissioners gave the go-ahead for a pilot project that will allow the berm of state Route 8 north to be used as a travel lane during major traffic jams on southern Kent Island.
Commission President Ben Cassell said on April 27 the board directed county Sheriff Charles Crossley to implement a plan in conjunction with two other law enforcement agencies. Crossley said the sheriff's office will coordinate a plan with the Maryland State Police, Maryland Transportation Authority Police, volunteer fire departments and emergency medical services providers.
Under the plan, motorists on southern Kent Island who are headed east on U.S. Route 50 will be allowed to drive on the shoulder of Route 8 north to reach Route 50 east. The plan only will be used to relieve congestion when major backups on Route 8 occur, Crossley said, such as when the entire west span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is closed to traffic due to an accident or construction.
"It's not something to be done on a daily basis," said Crossley. "... It would (have to) be a major backup."
The commissioners previously had discussions with the Maryland State Highway Administration, the county Public Works Department, the sheriff's office, state police and MdTA police about easing traffic congestion on Route 8 that is triggered by accidents or other incidents on the westbound span of the Bay Bridge. Route 8 is the only access road for southern Kent Islanders to reach Route 50. One suggestion was to open the shoulder of Route 8 for motorists driving north on Route 8 and turning right (east) on Route 50.
Crossley voiced concerns about the idea, explaining law enforcement officers could be held liable for an accident because they would be allowing vehicles to use the road shoulder, which is illegal. He asked for a legal opinion. The county commissioners got an April 14 letter from Thomas Hicks, director of SHA's traffic and safety office, which said the Maryland vehicle law prohibits vehicles from using the road shoulder.
©The Star Democrat 2004
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