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County to Improve Safety at Middlebrook Road Intersection

Last month, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation released the results of a traffic study of the intersection of Middlebrook Road and Waring Station Road after the Germantown Pulse requested the study back in March.

The intersection has been the site of a traffic collision at least once a month and the County has determined that there are steps which they will take to make the heavily traveled stretch of road a safer.

“We have completed our evaluation at this location,” said Mark Terry, Area Engineer with the Traffic Engineering Studies Section of the MCDOT’s Division of Traffic Engineering and Operations in an email. “And determined that with the considerable volume of left-turning traffic having to cross three-lanes of moderate to heavy opposing through-traffic along eastbound and westbound Middlebrook Road, a modification to the left-turn signal phasing is warranted.”

“Crash data at this intersection between 2011 and 2015 indicated a pattern of collisions for the westbound left turn movement on Middlebrook Road which can be corrected with a signal modification,” continued Terry in the email.

The intersection has been the site of 94 traffic collisions since 2010, according to MCPD’s collision database. In 2016, the intersection saw 14 collisions, while there were only seven the year prior in 2015. There have been 12 collisions where Middlebrook and Waring Station meet through October 2017, according to MCPD’s collision database.

The data shows that the intersection has good months and bad months. In March of 2016, the area saw four collisions, but none in 2017. There have been just four crashes at the intersection during the month of June since 2010. However, the month of October leads with 12 crashes since 2010.

The major changes that will be made to the traffic flow at the intersection will be the red arrow for left turns, according to Esther Bowring, public information officer with Montgomery County. “There have been a number of collisions with people making left turns at that intersection, what they are going to do is make it an exclusive left turn signal. Traffic will only be allowed to turn left when there is a green arrow. While traffic on Middlebrook Road which is going straight will have a green light, traffic turning left will have to wait until the left turn arrow turns green.”

“The signal phasing will be changed from exclusive/permissive to exclusive for both the eastbound and westbound left turn movement,” wrote Terry. “The provision of exclusive phasing will enhance safety by allowing left-turning vehicles to safely complete their left-turning maneuver with a protected phase.”

In other words, vehicles making a left from east- or west-bound Middlebrook Road will not have to attempt to dodge oncoming traffic to turn either on to Waring Station Road or into the Department of Energy campus. While the wait at the light may become longer, the intersection should become safer for drivers.

The County expects the modification to be made the signal later this year.

The intersection is also part of a Pedestrian Road Safety Audit along Middlebrook Road from Waring Station Road to Father Hurley Boulevard. The onsite audit was completed last November and focuses primarily on pedestrian and bicycle safety issues along the corridor.

According to the email from Terry, some immediate action items currently being addressed by MCDOT include non-working street lights, damaged or faded signs, faded pavement markings, sidewalk or pavement damage, overgrown vegetation, malfunctioning pedestrian signals, and improving the timing of pedestrian crossings.

Caption: A file photo of a collision at Middlebrook Road and Waring Station Road. There have been 94 such collisions at the intersection since 2010, and 12 so far in 2017.

Photo by Germantown Pulse.

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