Don’t Drive: Travel Monday Night / Tuesday Morning Discouraged

With a winter storm approaching for most of the mid-Atlantic, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) is ready to respond statewide for an extended period of snow overnight Monday into Tuesday. SHA warns would-be travelers to prepare since many areas are expected to get six or more inches of snow, making travel during and immediately following the storm hazardous. Extremely cold temperatures will make clearing and treating roadways a challenge. Statewide, SHA has nearly 2,500 pieces of equipment at its disposal to battle the storm on Monday night and Tuesday. Crews will add liquid magnesium chloride to salt applications to improve effectiveness since temperatures are expected to drop into the teens and single digits.

“Travel tonight and tomorrow morning should be delayed since it could take SHA crews through noon Tuesday to get roads to bare pavement,” said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters. “The expected snow, in conjunction with bitterly cold temperatures, could create very difficult travel conditions. SHA is asking motorists to plan ahead – take care of shopping and errands prior to Monday evening and avoid travel overnight Monday and Tuesday morning.”

Long distance commercial truck drivers may take safe haven during the storms at select SHA park and ride facilities across Maryland. Click here for a list of park and rides that are available. Dispatch centers should consider delaying shipments during the storm to prevent potential problems for commercial vehicles and drivers. A large truck stuck during a storm diverts emergency responders and can create significant traffic backups and impact snow removal operations.

“It is important for people to understand that if you choose to drive during the storm, the road conditions and visibly will not be suitable to travel. The crews work throughout storms to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the roads but it is not until several hours after a storm that they can truly clear the precipitation off highways. Add that with the bitter cold and the challenge is all the greater,” said Administrator Peters. “We’re urging everyone to avoid travel this evening, overnight and tomorrow morning; it’s simply not worth the risk of being stuck or stranded in these extremely cold temperatures.”

SHA and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) encourage motorists to always be prepared through the winter by keeping a few key items in your car at all times such as an ice scraper, bottled water, cell phone, an extra heavy jacket or blanket, sand for traction, jumper cables and safety flares. A complete list of FEMA-recommended items is at http://m.fema.gov/before-winter-storms-extreme-cold. Even with good preparation, motorists should avoid unnecessary travel for their own safety and to give crews the time and space they need to clear roads. The National Weather Service has issued weather advisories including winter storm watches and warnings for all of Maryland. Air and pavement temperatures will remain well below freezing so any precipitation has the potential to quickly freeze on roadways.

Visit www.MD511.org to view traffic cameras and obtain traffic and weather information. Customers may call 511 for traffic information using a hands-free mobile device or landline.

Change Your Clock – Change your Smoke Alarm Battery

In anticipation of daylight savings time ending in the early morning hours of November 2nd Marylanders to “Change Your Clock – Change Your Battery” in both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in their homes. Recognizing that working smoke alarms and CO detectors double a family’s chance of surviving a home fire and/or an unsafe carbon monoxide level, the State Fire Marshal says Daylight Savings Time is a great opportunity for families to change the batteries. “This simple procedure can help us avoid tragedies in the place we should feel the most secure – our homes.”

A new law became effective on July 1, 2013 involving “battery only” smoke alarms used in Maryland residential properties. When these “battery only” smoke alarms have reached their 10-year life span, they need to be replaced with new long-life sealed lithium battery smoke alarms with silence/hush button features. The silence/hush button feature temporarily disables the alarm so the occupant can ventilate the space from mild smoke conditions typically created during some cooking operations. The use of these alarms eliminates the need to replace the batteries during the 10 year life of the alarm.

The new law also requires homeowners to ensure they have a smoke alarm installed on each floor and outside each sleeping area, per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommendations. It is recommended to install smoke alarms inside each bedroom as well. If your property is protected with 120 volt electric smoke alarms, they also should be replaced every 10 years with new 120 volt smoke alarms w/ battery back-up to ensure proper and timely operation in the event of a fire.

Along with working smoke alarms and CO detectors, home escape plans are another way Marylanders can avoid injury or death in their homes. By identifying at least two different escape routes, families can practice the plan together – before an emergency strikes. Practicing the plan helps educate younger children to the danger of hazardous situations and the importance of recognizing that the sound of a smoke alarm or CO detector signals a potential hazard in the home. “Changing the battery in your smoke alarms and CO detectors, along with developing and practicing a home escape plan, are three of the best ways to protect your loved ones and yourself from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning,” stated Fire Marshal Geraci. These life saving electronic devices have a life expectancy of ten years for smoke alarms and seven years for CO detectors. Please replace the units at these intervals to ensure optimal performance in the event an incident involving fire or a carbon monoxide leak was to

Please observe the overhead electronic signs as you travel throughout the State this weekend. The Office of the State Fire Marshal and all Marylanders thank the Maryland Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration for assisting to spread the word about this life saving reminder.

O’Malley & Brown Announce Start of $50 Million US 301/MD 304 Interchange Project in QA

Delivering on their commitment to enhance traffic safety and meet the transportation needs of communities across the Eastern Shore, Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown today announced the start of work to construct a new interchange along US 301 (Blue Star Memorial Highway) at MD 304 (Ruthsburg Road) to replace the existing intersection. The $49.9 million safety project was Queen Anne’s County’s top transportation priority and was made possible thanks to funding from the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013. To celebrate the start of work, Transportation Secretary James T. Smith, Jr.; State Highway Administration (SHA) Administrator Melinda Peters; state and local elected officials; and representatives from the advocacy group Support Overpass 4 Students (SO4S) participated in a groundbreaking ceremony at the busy US 301 / MD 304 intersection.

“Thanks to the passage of the Transportation Act, we are investing more than ever to put people to work building roads, bridges and priority projects like this interchange,” said Governor O’Malley. “Together, with communities like Centreville and organizations like Support Overpass 4 Students, we’ll continue to do the things that work to create jobs, build and restore a 21st Century transportation network, and ensure our quality of life by keeping more families safe on our roads.”

“Investments in our infrastructure create jobs, spur economic development, and help expand opportunities for Maryland families,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “By working in partnership with our local and federal partners to move this critical project forward, we are creating a safer, more convenient route for the thousands of Eastern Shore residents and visitors who rely on this interchange each day.”

The new interchange includes a two-lane bridge carrying MD 304 over US 301. Two single-lane roundabouts will be built along MD 304 on either side of the new bridge to safely guide drivers through the interchange. The project also includes a new 25-space paved park and ride lot in the northwest corner of the interchange, along with bicycle-compatible shoulders on the MD 304 bridge to provide safe passage for cyclists and pedestrians. Currently, 21,720 vehicles along US 301 and 5,220 vehicles along MD 304 travel through this intersection each day, with traffic projected to increase to 32,400 (US 301) and 7,350 (MD 304) vehicles per day by 2030. Nearly one-quarter of all vehicles along US 301 in this area are trucks.

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“A reliable and well maintained infrastructure is vital to creating jobs today in construction and jobs tomorrow through economic growth,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee which funds the Department of Transportation. “Smart funding for Maryland’s highways and byways is laying the groundwork for our future. When completed, this interchange will improve safety and ease congestion in Queen Anne’s County, helping Marylanders get to their jobs and truckers get their cargo to its destination. These investments in our communities follow through on my commitment to stand up for jobs and improve the quality of life for all Marylanders.”

“Robust investments in multi-modal transportation infrastructure are investments in job creation and economic development across the region,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Transportation Infrastructure Subcommittee. “The federal government has been such a strong partner throughout Maryland to modernize and diversify our transportation choices. Efforts to improve safety for all our travelers on these rural roads are incredibly important to the livability of our rural Eastern Shore communities.”

“This project is truly an example of what is possible when an entire community comes together in a common purpose with determination and unwavering commitment,” said Jennifer Fitzmaurice, one of the adult leaders of SO4S. “On behalf of everyone who has worked to make the start of this much needed project possible, thank you for supporting this cause time and time again.”

Lindsey Rekstis, the senior class president of Queen Anne’s County High School in 2012 and now a college student in Washington, DC, was among the leading students in rallying the community in support of the new interchange.

“I am amazed that we have reached success in this process, but I am not surprised. I knew from the moment I joined the SO4S organization that the community would not stop until they got what they deserved; a peace of mind and a reassurance that they would be safe,” said Ms. Rekstis.

As part of the project, crews will construct new J-turns at the US 301 and MD 305 intersection, north of the new interchange, and modify access on US 301 at Rolling Bridge Road to right-in, right-out only turning movement for all traffic just south of the intersection. Crews also will enhance drainage and storm water management along the highways.

David A. Bramble, Inc. of Chestertown, Maryland, was awarded the construction contract. Work will begin this fall and is scheduled to be complete fall 2017, weather permitting.

While SHA and its transportation partners work hard to maintain safe traffic mobility in work zones, each driver needs to actively modify his or her driving style to help prevent crashes. Stay alert and look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers. Slow down and don’t follow too closely. Safer Driving. Safer Work Zones. For Everyone

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Route 50 Repair Work Set for Tonight and Tomorrow

Beginning tonight the State Highway Administration (SHA) will repair a damaged pipe under eastbound US 50, just east of I-97 near Annapolis in Anne Arundel County. Work includes using ground-penetrating radar to detect any voids near the metal pipe, using video cameras to inspect the pipe, lining the pipe, backfilling and patching US 50. This work is necessary following a partial collapse of the pipe in early June. SHA crews temporarily filled and patched the pipe to reopen the roadway for morning rush hour; this week’s work will restore the pipe’s function as a stormwater drain.

Tonight, SHA will close one lane of eastbound US 50 at Exit 22 (MD 665/Aris T. Allen Blvd.) from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. This closure will allow SHA to inspect and clean the pipe.

Beginning at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 25 and Thursday, June 26, SHA will close two lanes along eastbound US 50 and then all eastbound lanes at 10 p.m. Posted detour signs will direct motorists to MD 665 (Aris T. Allen Blvd.) to return to eastbound US 50 past the work zone. Crews will open all lanes by 5 a.m. Work is weather permitting and these phases include installing a new pipe lining and patching the eastbound US 50 lanes.

SHA encourages motorists traveling east through Annapolis to plan ahead and allow extra time during work hours. All work is weather-dependent and may be rescheduled for the following night. However, SHA will not perform patching operations on Friday, June 27 due to anticipated heavy traffic volumes. If necessary, crews will complete the work Saturday, June 28 overnight into Sunday, June 29.

Traffic on westbound US 50 and I-97 should not be affected by this work.

While SHA and its transportation partners work hard to maintain safe traffic mobility in work zones, each driver needs to actively modify his or her driving to help prevent crashes. Stay alert and look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers. Slow down and don’t follow too closely. Drivers, passengers as well as workers are at risk. Safer driving. Safer work zones. For everyone.