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State Developing Plan for Harford and Joppa Roads

Money has been allocated for the design of improvements to the intersection but acquisition of land and construction still have to be funded.

There may be some relief on the way for traffic problems caused by the chronically congested intersection of Harford and Joppa roads in Carney, according to an email the  State Highway Administration sent to state Sen. Kathy Klausmeier.  Klausmeier has been looking into the issue.

Dave Peake, the SHA Division Engineer for Baltimore County, wrote Klausmeier an email saying that the state was working with Baltimore County on a proposal to relieve congestion at the intersection. That proposal will be presented soon to the Carney Improvement Association and other stakeholders in the area.

"We're about 20 percent done with the design phase of our plan, and the design phase has been funded," said Dave Buck, a SHA spokesman. Buck said that $680,000 was alotted by the state for the design of improvements to the intersection. About $250,000 of that money has been spent so far on traffic studies and other work, Buck said.

"Our goal is to go out to the Carney Improvement Association and other folks within the next two to three months," Buck said.

After the plan is presented to the public, Buck said that land near the intersection would have to be acquired and construction would follow. But Buck added that neither acquisition nor construction have been funded.

It will be about nine or 10 months until a design can be completed, Buck said.  When  motorists will be traveling through an improved intersection is uncertain.

Funding for the remainder of the project would generally come from the state budget, Buck said, but he did not rule out the possibility that Baltimore County, which owns Joppa Road, might pay for part of the improvements.

The State currently gives the intersection a failing grade of F for Level of Service, while the county rates the intersection as passing, albeit narrowly, with a D grade.

Peake discussed that discrepancy in his email to Klausmeier.

"SHA is aware that Level of Service (LOS) ratings are sometimes listed differently for Baltimore County intersections because the State Highway Administration (SHA) and Baltimore County use different rating criteria," Peake wrote in the e-mail.

Baltimore County traffic engineers use a system that dates to the 1965 Highway Capacity Manual, which determines the grade of the intersection based on how many times all the vehicles don't make it through an intersection when the light turns green during peak hours. 

Meanwhile, the State Highway Administration uses the current Highway Capacity Manual, Peake explained.  The current manual bases grades assigned to an intersection on the overall number of seconds a driver spends at an intersection — the longer the wait time, the worse the grade.

"The State has had the intersection ... measured consistently at a level-of-service 'F' for some time and likewise the County has had the ... intersection measured consistently at a level-of-service 'D' for some time," Peake said in the email.

SAB November 03, 2011 at 11:32 AM
I live in the area near Perring Parkway and Joppa Road -- per Baltimore County Traffic this intersection is a 'D' -- developers are allowed to continue builiding in and around this area -- within my community there is a proposed HOA development by Craftsmen Developers of 30+ homes - these builders have stated they are not concerned about the traffic, increased congestion,(& additional community input) and they seem convinced 'they' will dictate to BCPS transportation that the busses WILL drive into their cul-de-sacs. There needs to be a better way of communication before our area becomes an 'F' also -- officials need to work at becoming PROactive, prevent the situation from becoming much worse, instead of the pressure of increasing county revenue.
Tony November 03, 2011 at 04:55 PM
I would prefer no new construction. People can adjust their route to less-traveled roads first. If you cannot adjust your route, leave a little earlier to avoid the peak times. Carpool. Move closer to work. If those aren't options, then just deal with the extra light cycle to two. Over a half million dollars just to better accommodate two peak times? A quarter million already spent on "studies and "other work""? Sounds nuts to me.
Mike Pierce November 04, 2011 at 08:20 PM
Tony, I agree with you in general about people needing to change their habits, like taking the (almost non-existent) public transportation, but what alternate routes would you suggest, for example, trying to get from Towson to Kingsville in the afternoon or anyone needing to go north on Harford Rd? Most alternate routes require additional miles, which increases the overall congestion. It does bother me tremendously that the County refuses to understand that this is a failing intersection as the state says. They just don't want to hinder development. I think the only real fix would be to tunnel Harford Rd under Joppa. Of course, all this is really just to give Harford Countians a better commute.
Robert Armstrong November 04, 2011 at 10:25 PM
Isn't there something more modern than a 1965 Highway Capacity manual that they can use?
One in every crowd November 15, 2011 at 01:54 PM
Nice try guys, but sadly my street is an "alternate route"! Fullerdale Avenue has 100's of speeding cars an hour trying to avoid the light at Harford and Joppa Rds, our street has become unsafe, and we cannot seem to get ANYONE to put in speed humps.

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