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Al McEvoy turns onto West Friendship Road from northbound Route 32 on his homeward commute every day, and he said he doesn't like what he sees in his rearview mirror.

Drivers "careen (and) swerve, barely missing my tail end too often," said the Sykesville resident.

McEvoy considers the left turn dangerous, and he's not alone. Recently the State Highway Association said it is looking into how to make it safer.

Drivers heading to Sykesville scoot along Route 32 (of course, except in rush hour gridlock) and while some pick up speed coming down Deer Hill's leaning curve before the Patapsco River, others, such as McEvoy, try to attempt a left-hand turn to go to Sykesville and wish for the best.

Town Manager Matt Candland, who said he's also had some close calls at that intersection, coupled McEvoy's concerns into a letter to State Highway.

"The concern we presented is that when a car is coming up from behind you going downhill sometimes 60-plus mph, you literally have to swerve out of the way so they will not hit you," Candland said.

SHA officials found in their own studies that the turning situation needs improvement, according to David Buck, SHA spokesman.

Buck said the current northbound lane could be converted into a left-turn lane at the intersection -- traffic continuing straight through would be shifted onto the shoulder, he said.

The shoulder would have to be rebuilt south of the intersection, he said, for it to become a through-lane to handle traffic.

SHA staff will have a concept plan to make improvements to the turn by the end of the year, Buck said.

Once that's done, staff will give a cost-estimate to complete the project, he said, but funding will also be a problem as it competes with other road work already tagged in the state.

Candland said he respects the tight budget and for State Highway looking at the situation, but "we prefer to actually make improvements," he said.

Roadwork should not be designed to complicate future widening of Route 32, Buck said.

"We wouldn't do something that's not consistent with the dualization of 32," he said. "With that said, this is more of a short-term safety improvement."

Troubled bridge over water

Candland also requested State Highway to review the pedestrian walkway attached to the bridge that connects West Friendship Road to Main Street over the Patapsco River and to see if the bridge can be widen to accommodate a larger path.

"The railings aren't super safe, and I've got a number of complaints from parents saying, 'Boy, I'm afraid my kids will slip through there,' " he said. Also the bridge is not visually inviting, he added.

The existing bridge would have to be reconstructed to have a wider walking path and SHA does not have a rehabilitation project scheduled at this time, said John M. Concannon, assistant district engineer, in a written response to Candland's inquiry.

Development of South Branch Park might speed-up improvements to the bridge, Buck said. That would depend on whether a developer's plans for the property would directly affect the bridge, he said.

If so, the developer would be required to do a traffic-impact study, he said, and SHA would decide what improvements would be necessary.


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