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.