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Traffic Light Planned for Clopper Road Intersection

The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration has plans to install a traffic light at the west end of Clopper Road, where it intersects with Clarksburg Road in Boyds and the nearby intersection of Clarksburg Road and Barnesville Road.

According to Charlie Gischlar, public information officer with the Maryland State Highway Administration, the SHA was asked to look into the traffic and congestion at the intersection of MD-117 and MD 121 the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and members of the surrounding community about two years ago.

The intersection is tricky because of the proximity of the CSX train overpass and the change of MD-117 from Clopper Road to Barnesville Road, often creates traffic jams during morning rush hours. It lies at the western end of Clopper Road and the eastern end of Barnesville Road. Motorists wishing to continue on MD-117 must turn onto MD-121 for about 330-feet, go under the train tracks, and then turn back on to MD-117.

“Approximately two years ago, community members, as well as the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, requested that the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration study daily congestion related concerns at the intersection of MD 117, which is Barnesville Road and MD 121, Clarksburg Road,” said Gischlar. The study found that the average daily traffic volumes for each road at the intersection were 7,500 vehicles per day for MD 117/Copper Road and 4,000 vehicles per day for MD 121/Clarksburg Road.

In the study, SHA engineers noted that the all-way stop condition at the intersection of MD 117 (Clopper Road/ Clarksburg Road) and Clopper Road contributed to excessive delays during the morning peak hours of traffic, according to Gischlar. Traffic queues extend northerly to near Little Seneca Lake in the southbound direction during the morning peak. This queue blocked eastbound MD-117 (Barnesville Road) from being able to turn right to continue to MD-121 (Clarksburg Road) and continue eastbound on MD-117 (Clopper Road), he said.

“Traffic analyses conducted by SHA that suggested that a part-time traffic signal be installed at the MD 117/Clopper Road intersection,” said Gischlar. “This will address the excessive morning traffic delays. As such, a part-time morning traffic signal was approved for installation at this location.”

The traffic signal is scheduled for installation in the Fall of 2016, but Gischlar said there may be property line wrinkles which need to be ironed out before the traffic signals can be installed and may create delays.

“Although the installation of the traffic signal is currently scheduled for the fall of this year, SHA is determining the exact SHA property line extends. There may not be enough SHA right-of-way, which could throw the date out a bit while we determine how much land is required to install the traffic signal,” said Gischlar.

According to the SHA, the signal will only operate in full-color mode during the morning rush hours from 6:30 am to 9:00 am. At all other times, the signal will flash a red indication for all approaches, meaning after full-color operation, vehicles will have to treat the intersection as a four-way stop.

During the rush-hour when the signal in full-color operation, it will operate with special signal-phasing. Specifically, the signal will rest in green for the southbound traffic on MD-121/Clarksburg Road and the eastbound right-turn movement at Clopper Road. If stopped traffic is detected on either direction of MD-117, at both Barnesville Road and Clopper Road, an on-demand call will instruct the southbound approach to a red light while the Clopper Road approaches get green.

“We acknowledge that the CSX overpass could limit sight distance along the southbound approach,” said Gischler. “In response to this concern, a ‘Signal Ahead Be Prepared to Stop when Flashing’ overhead is proposed to be installed north of the CSX tracks to advise motorists of the need to stop for the red signal.”


Top: Motorists often encounter large back-ups during morning rush hours while heading southbound on Clarksburg Road and attempting to turn onto Clopper Road. The State Highway Administration is planning to install traffic signals to manage the flow better.

Next: The intersection is a bit tricky because of the existence of the CSX train overpass near the Boyds MARC Train station. Image courtesy Google.

Next: The CXS train overpass at the intersection of Clarksburg Road and Clopper Road in Boyds.

Photos by Germantown Pulse.


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