LETTER: SHA Solution to Route 4 Traffic Improvement Not Optimum


The deaths of two teenagers in November 2007, at Route 4 and Briscoes Turn/Skinners Turn Road intersection as well as tragic deaths at Route 4 and Brickhouse Road have more in common than loss of life.

Both intersections have an at-grade (or surface-grade) crossover that forces drivers to place their vehicle perpendicular to oncoming highway traffic.

The Dunkirk Area Concerned Citizens Association (DACCA) Board of Directors reviewed the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) evaluation of Route 4 and Briscoes Turn/Skinners Turn Road intersection proposal. DACCA concluded that SHA is offering only a partial solution that will not sufficiently improve safety.

SHA plans to channel east bound Briscoes Turn Road traffic southbound to prevent one dangerous crossover of Route 4 south- and north-bound traffic. This part of the plan is sound as it will permit traffic to continue flowing while preventing some traffic from crossing Route 4.

Reducing dangerous conditions without impeding traffic flow can and should be the objective. While one might react emotionally to tragic deaths by calling for traffic lights, installing full color traffic signals fails to achieve this two part objective.

Traffic lights won’t correct the root cause of the danger. Crossover traffic at traffic light intersections can still be subject to horrific accidents. Traffic lights also impede the traffic flow which then causes a ripple affect decreasing safety elsewhere on the road.

Unfortunately, the SHA plan still permits one dangerous crossover of west bound traffic of Route 4 north- and south-bound from Skinners Turn Road.

The optimum solution calls for also constructing “channeling” at Skinners Turn Road. Most importantly, this solution should include removing that surface-grade crossover (that surfaced area in the median strip).

Evan Slaughenhoupt
President, DACCA
Dunkirk, Maryland

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