Steer Horn Neck Road Speed Limit Reduced

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (March 10, 2022)—The Commissioners of St. Mary's County voted to establish an official speed limit of 40 miles per hour on Steer Horn Neck Road in Hollywood this week but several of them said there needs to be more speed and traffic enforcement to keep drivers from breaking the limits.

The speed on Steer Horn Neck Road had been 50 miles per hour but numerous accidents, crashes and complaints from residents showed that speed limit was often broken with little care as to consequences.

When they passed their resolution, commissioners added language directing the Department of Public Works and Transportation—which came to the commissioners with the proposed ordinance change—to establish measures other than a sign to actually slow traffic down.

According to county documents, Steer Horn Neck Road was the only county-owned road which had a posted speed limit of 50 miles per hour.

James Gotsch, newly-hired director of the public works department, said Steer Horn Neck Road was a "legacy road we inherited from State Highway [Administration]."

"What drives this is up at the intersection with Sotterley Road there has been 10 incidents, accidents in the last five years," Gotsch said, relaying complaints from a resident. "They've replaced their mailbox three times, they've replaced a fence three times.

"They're [drivers] not stopping. They're just driving over Sotterley Road [intersection] and into the ditch."

The speed limit reduction would also serve nearby subdivisions whose residents say lower speeds would make it easier for them to exit their communities onto main roads.

Also, a newly-constructed crosswalk serving Greenwell State Park necessitated the reduction, Gotsch said.

Commissioners Todd Morgan and John O'Connor both said they wanted public works to pursue additions to the road, such as rumble strips, that would encourage drivers to slow down.

Gotsch said rumble strips were universally unpopular for the noise they produce—as well as complaints—and are often quickly removed.

"Anyone who drives out there… realizes if it's 50 miles an hour, people are going slow," Morgan said. "The traffic enforcement is going to a be a sign that is going to be ignored."

O'Connor said the new signs could also have the opposite effect on drivers.

"You can put up all the signs in the world, but without the enforcement to back it up, lower speed limits like this cause more defiance of the actual speed limit," O'Connor said. "A sign won't stop the problem but traffic engineering can curb the problem.

"We have to look at it a different perspective; maybe we do need to put up rumble strips and see what happens."

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