State Highway Administration Has Partially Completed Evaluation of Little Quarry and 124 : LUSENET : Kentlands : One Thread

The office of State Highway Administration District Engineer, Charlie Watkins has faxed me a copy of a letter sent to Del. Cheryl Kagan dated July 31. The letter indicates the SHA has partially completed it's traffic evaluation of Quince Orchard Road between Little Quarry and Longdraft.

So far the findings indicate that "safety could be enhanced through the upgrading of existing signing and additional pavement markings. Arrangements have been made to replace the existing black on yellow school signs with fluorescent yellow-green signs. 'SCHOOL' pavement markings will be installed along the northbound and southbound MD 124 approaches to the school." This work should be completed prior to the start of the upcoming school year.

Now, the evaluation also found that "the sight distance approaching the designated crossing area was determined to be more than adequate. Motorists along northbound and southbound MD 124 were found to be traveling within the posted speed limit." The review did note that students were required to cross multiple lanes in both directions along MD-124. Editorial comment: This particular "determination" I found to be ludicrous.

However, the letter went on to say that the SHA would like to meet with school officials about putting a crossing guard at Little Quarry and 124 (apparently there is a marked school crossing already in place.)

I think the SHA has been responsive, and the recommendations are adequate but not enough. Please let me know your thoughts on this, and if/how you would like to proceed. If anyone would like a copy of the letter from the SHA to Del. Kagan please e-mail me. I can either fax it to you or drop off a copy at your home.

-- Robin Caldwell (, August 22, 2000


Regarding the finding that: "Motorists along northbound and southbound MD 124 were found to be traveling within the posted speed limit." This is absurd; the cars travel far too fast for a road that children are crossing on a regular basis. Either the speed limit should be lowered, to 30mph or less, or the SHA needs to send out another observer. I don't know how many samples they took but motorists regularly go flying past there at 60 or more.

-- Steven Salzberg (, August 23, 2000.

Robin, thanks for posting this information regarding the SHA's evaluation of Little Quarry and Quince Orchard.

I agree with you that the SHA has been responsive and think that it is taking steps in the right direction. However, it looks like the measures proposed, so far, address only the matter of middle-school children (and, by extension, other individuals) crossing the intersection in question on foot, during school hours. The (so far, partial?) recommendations do not address the matter of the intersection being a dangerous one for traffic. Similarly, they do not address the issue of pedestrians' crossing the intersection during nonschool hours, e.g., to make use of a bus stop. Does the fact that the evaluation is only partially completed mean that a stoplight is still a possibility?

We are talking about a four-lane, public highway crossing a four-way intersection. In this instance, a singular focus on middle-school children walking to and from school would not make sense to me. According to the national data, those with the highest rates of death due to unintentional motor vehicle injuries (MVIs) sustained in traffic on public highways are older than the middle-school group. They are adolescents aged 15-19, young adults aged 20-24 and individuals aged 75 or older.

If we agree that the L.Q./Q.O./Cheyenne Road intersection is dangerous for traffic, as well as for pedestrians, how can we ignore the fact that, depending on the age groups being compared, the unintentional-MVI death rate for public highways is 400% to 600% higher for 20- to 24-year- olds and 15- to 19-year-olds than it is for adolescents aged 10-14 or children aged 5-9? And with MVIs the leading cause of death for younger adolescents, older adolescents and young adults, alike, how can we NOT advocate for our older youth, as well as our younger ones?

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, August 23, 2000.

You make very valid points, Mary, and I agree with your concerns. I think I will contact the SHA again and ask them to address your questions. I still cannot figure out what time of day the engineers were evaluating this intersection. There is speeding traffic almost all the time along that stretch of road. I am under the impression that because of that particular determination, the traffic light idea is not something the SHA is considering at this time. However, I don't think it's an acceptible decision given the circumstances that we witness every day. Onward...

-- Robin Caldwell (, August 24, 2000.

If you do contact the SHA and ask them to address my questions, Robin, I would be interested in knowing what they have to say. I would also be interested in knowing if the SHA is including in their evaluation the question of safety for vehicles making left turns out of, or into, Little Quarry Road (and the same for Cheyenne Road) from Quince Orchard Blvd. and, if they are, what they conclude.

From talking to several of my neighbors, I can say that at least some of us who live close to the L.Q./Q.O. intersection (Vic and I are just two blocks away) use one of the alternative entrances/exits, rather than making a left into or out of Little Quarry Road. Why? Because we feel that we are taking our lives in our hands to make that left turn. The other side of THIS coin is that children and toddlers, who regularly play on the sidewalks and in alleyways in Kentlands (and may dart out into traffic from between parked cars), are being exposed to some degree of additional risk by our pattern of avoiding that dreaded left--no matter how carefully we may drive.

It just seems that when you add up all of the factors with this intersection, many of which have been expressed in the "Ridgeview walkers, installing a stoplight @ Quince Orchard Blvd. and Little Quarry Road intersection" thread on this site, the most rationale solution would be a stoplight.

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, August 27, 2000.

I agree with Mary's observations above. While it is important to safeguard our children's passage to and from school, it is hardly the only reason to consider traffic control at the intersection.

Remember the Pinto? Years ago, Ford Motor created a horror when it made (and documented) a management decision to omit a $2 plastic shield between the car's gas tank and differential. In a rear-end collision, the gas tank ruptured, spewing flaming fuel over the entire crash scene. Many innocent people died as a result and Ford spend millions of dollars on settlements, lost sales, and public relations. Yet some former Ford executives still privately believe that Ford came out better financially in the end.

It is possible that the same thinking is preventing installation of a traffic light at this dangerous intersection. The State may be waiting for the requisite injury/death toll to hit its threshhold before acting. I cenrtainly hope that my speculation isn't true, but ... who's to know?

My wife and I enjoy dining on our deck, which unavoidably overlooks the intersection. I can only observe that the "speed study" that came to the conclusions cited above must have used a fortuitous sample size of 1. Speeding on the section of 124 in question is rampant. Much more work remains to be done on the part of the State of Maryland to prove to me that a traffic signal is unnecessary.

-- David Fetzer (, September 08, 2000.

This issue is reported on in the September Lakelands Leader. According to that source, District Engineer Charlie Watkins expects that the traffic signal study for the LQ/QO intersection will be complete by some time later this month.

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, September 19, 2000.

On a related note, has anyone else noticed that the crossing guard for the Ridgeview walkers is not reliable? I know for a fact that there have been many occasions where no guard was to be seen. How can we let our children walk to or from school when we don't know for sure if someone will be there to see them safely across Q.O. Blvd.? One last gripe, my child often does not come out of the school until 2:50, and he is not the last one out! I imagine the guard is long gone before he could ever get to the intersection, since she is gone by 3:00. Is it just me, or are others concerned and upset?

-- Lauren Paiva (, October 07, 2000.

To end the suspense (if there was any), it was reported at the last board meeting that the SHA has completed its study and will not be installing a stoplight at Little Quarry Road and Quince Orchard Blvd. Is there anyone who has any additional information on this matter that they wish to share here with interested "lurkers" and active participants in this discussion? Also, is there any interest in mounting a larger, more concerted effort to try and get a stoplight installed at L.Q./Q.O. before someone gets killed there? Any information? Any opinions? Anyone?

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, November 02, 2000.

Right after Doug Duncan took office, there was a controversy over a left turn light from Great Seneca Highway onto Muddy Branch Road. then there was another accident and Duncan ordered the County highway folks to put in the left turn signal. They did so within 24 hours, as I recall.

Can that be done in the case of Little Quarry and QO road?


-- Jim Hubbard (, November 02, 2000.

That's interesting Jim. It didn't occur to me to contact Doug Duncan. Maybe he's an avenue worth exploring. Personally, I don't think this issue should be left in limbo - ever. It's too frightening. Anyone who'd like to contact him, the information is below.

Douglas M. Duncan Mongtomery County County Executive Executive Office Building 101 Monroe Street Rockville, MD 20850 Phone: 240-777-2500 Fax: 240-777-2517

-- Robin Caldwell (, November 02, 2000.

Actually, Dick Arkin commented at the last board meeting that when the criteria ("warrants," is it?) for installing a traffic signal are not met, it usually takes going to the legislature (he mentioned trying with both legislatures) to get the job done.

But the question is, if we are to contact Doug Duncan, how should we go about this? I tend to think that at this point we need to act in a more concerted way than we have been with our initial efforts.

I am thinking that the most efficient and potentially most effective way to go would be to ask our governing body for their help in this matter. However, considering that Quince Orchard is a state road, is it a matter that falls under the purview of an HOA? CAN the Assembly take a stance on the issue of a stoplight at L.Q./Q.O.? I would think they could, given that the portion of Q.O. we are talking about is not only adjacent to Kentlands but part of a main entrance to our community. But I don't know. Does anyone? And does anyone have any opinions they would like to express here on the idea of asking our governing body to advocate for a stoplight at L.Q./Q.O. on our (the Assembly's) behalf? CC: Barbara Moidel, Dick Arkin, Diane Dorney.

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, November 03, 2000.

The following is a personal email to me from Dick Arkin, which he gave me permission to disseminate:


It has been our experience and that of other communities that it is extremely difficult to get a light installed on a state highway when the traffic warrants for a light are not met, even when a community strongly desires it. It is generally easier to get a light on a county highway and considerably easier to get one on a city roadway because county and city officials are generally more responsive to local concerns than are state highway employees.

Usually, the only effective way to get the State Highway Administration to respond positively is through political pressure. Of course, getting the endorsement of the project by the local homeowners/civic association board and officers is usually a basic requirement. The current members of the Board of Trustees of the Kentlands Citizens Assembly are Clyde Horton, Mike Janus, Patrick Malone, Barbara Moidel, and Richard Nakles, while I now occupy the president's chair. I certainly support this effort and I suspect that would also be true for the members of the Board. As editor of the Town Crier, Diane Dorney can publish a story on the matter or letters submitted by others, but the newspaper is not permitted to take an advocacy position on any issue.

In a city with its own governing body, the support of the mayor and city council is quite important, and I would hope someone would approach these officials. It is also highly desirable to have the support of the county executive and at least those county councilmembers whose constituents are affected. These would be at-large councilmembers Blair Ewing (D), Ike Leggett (D), Steve Silverman (D), and Mike Subin (D), and Phil Andrews (D), the councilmember for Councilmanic District 3, where the intersection is located.

Perhaps most importantly, you would want the support of the state legislators (who control SHA's funding) for the district in which the intersection is located. In this instance, the intersection is located on the border of two legislative districts: Legislative District 17 (Gaithersburg-Rockville) and Legislative District 15 (Potomac-Upcounty). The Senator for Legislative District 17 is Jennie Forehand (D) and the Senator for Legislative District 15 is Jean Roesser (R). The Delegates from Legislative District 17 are Kumar Barve (D), Mike Gordon (D), and Cheryl Kagan (D), while those from Legislative District 15 are Jean Cryor (R), Richard La Vay (R) and Mark Shriver (D).

It can be extremely helpful if those who are pursuing a cause have a personal relationship with the elected officials, which is one incentive for getting involved in the political process. Let me know if you want their office, home, or email addresses.

-- Dick Arkin

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, November 03, 2000.

Barbara Moidel has informed me that she has put this issue of a traffic signal for L.Q./Q.O. on the agenda for the next board meeting. Anyone who is interested, please attend.

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, November 16, 2000.

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