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Not sure if traffic lights are best fit

By Staff | Nov 29, 2013

As many of you know, I travel Route 340 each day from Harpers Ferry to work here in Shepherdstown. I am sure that many of you travel that highway to and from work as well.

Over the past few weeks, the makings of new stop lights have sprung up at two locations. One light that is still “under construction” or at least not in working order, is at the intersection of Bakerton Road and Rt. 340 at the Flea Market. The other is at the entrance of the Customs and Border Patrol facility.

Having traveled this highway for more years that I care to mention, I know the need for some type of traffic control at the Bakerton intersection. Summer months, especially, see hordes of traffic attempting to get in and out of the flea market location, the fruit market and River Riders. However, the location, in my humble opinion, does not appear as if it will benefit from a traffic light.

The light sits at the bottom a hill from both directions. Tractor trailers already have a difficult enough time stopping at the light at the entrance to Bolivar; stopping downhill will potentially be a nightmare. Add to the downhill location an immediate uphill heading toward Harpers Ferry and the potential start of the light in winter. Trucks (and cars) cannot make it up the hill past the flea market very well now with a running start-adding in a stop light at the bottom of the hill will lead to jack knifes and stopped traffic in the winter weather.

Just prior to this intersection, the addition of a light at Customs gives a second stoplight within less than 100 yards. Allegedly the light at Rt. 230 was to come down; however, the light has just been replaced so I don’t believe it will see removal anytime soon. And of course, the lights are not in sync with one another. Getting through one immediately calls for a stop at the next one.

The light at Customs is functional now, for an entrance to an out-of-control government sprawl that is not even open yet! The entrance is barricaded; however, the light changes for it nonetheless, even though no cars are ever there.

While I am an editor and writer and not a transportation authority, common sense should prevail in the job! We should learn lessons from our neighbors to the east in Loudoun County. They put stoplights in every mile or so down Route 7 year after year. Now, they have learned how futile that was and have replaced the lights with on and off ramps and overhead roadways. This would be the solution to offer at the Bakerton intersection rather than making an unsafe intersection even more unsafe with a light in that location.

I sincerely hope that I am wrong and that there will not be more accidents rather than fewer at this location. Time will tell.