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Takoma Junction Signal Change Impeding Some Traffic

Task force members want a seat at the table.

at the Takoma Junction is impeding traffic according to some Takoma Junction Task Force members.

The change in the traffic signal on Sycamore Avenue has created a better traffic flow on Carroll Ave., and probably keeps the traffic at status quo on Ethan Allen Avenue but created a problem on Sycamore Avenue, said Howard Kohn, the Takoma Junction Task Force co-chair at the committee’s meeting on Thursday.

Because of the change in the traffic signal on Sycamore Avenue, it appears that traffic on Ethan Allen Ave. is able to keep going at the same time the Sycamore Avenue traffic is trying to turn onto Ethan Allen Avenue, Kohn said.

The light on Sycamore changes while Ethan Allen Avenue still has the green, said Lorig Charkoudian, task force member. So Ethan Allen Avenue traffic is continuing at the same time Sycamore Avenue. traffic is trying to turn, and by the time Sycamore Avenue traffic is attempting to turn, there are cars on Ethan Allen Avenue preventing Sycamore Avenue traffic from turning, she said.

The traffic signal situation at Ethan Allen and Sycamore Avenues is creating “a jam up,” because before the cars on Sycamore can turn, three or four cars on Ethan Allen are halted at the intersection with their back ends out in the opposing lanes, said Susan Robb, task force member.

Robb said the change at the intersection occurred not long after she observed Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) employees working on a traffic signal at the junction. The change in the signal might possibly have created “dangerous situations” in the traffic, she said, adding “something needs to be done.”

Task force members noted the SHA took action at the junction not long after Takoma Park Police Chief Ronald Ricucci contacted the SHA. That has prompted some task force members to want to be part of any conversations with the SHA on the junction.

“There’s a chance too many people from Takoma Park are asking the SHA to do almost contradictory things,” Robb said. “The point is we need to stay abreast of the situations with the police chief, who has apparently contacted SHA.”

While Takoma Park residents, neighborhood associations, and even a city task force can have conversations with the SHA, “ultimately, the SHA is going to respond much more directly to the city staff than others, said Kohn. Therefore, the task force needs to find out which city staffer is tasked with meeting with the SHA, and task force representatives should be at those meetings, he said.

“We [task force members] should have a seat at the table because some of us know more about the traffic than anyone on the city staff,” Robb said.

Mary Beth Hastings July 30, 2011 at 11:40 AM
This is absolutely a hazard - and it's only a matter of time until there's an accident. Three out of four times I'm at the light (I live in the neighborhood) someone on Ethan Allen is still going through after the Sycamore light has changed, and I've seen several near misses. It's a short light for Sycamore, so the tendency is to get through the light as quickly as possible, but going through without looking could be deadly for the Sycamore driver.
Anne LeVeque July 30, 2011 at 02:18 PM
One the one hand, it's good to know that there hasn't been a huge upsurge in red-light runners at this intersection. But on the other hand, I had always understood that this set-up was pretty much impossible, from a traffic engineering point of view. Are the lights being treated as different intersections?
Steve Davies August 26, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Yesterday, as I sat behind one other car on Sycamore, the light turned green, but before we could move, a car on Ethan Allen approached from the left headed twds NH Ave. It continued thru the light (which was green or red, I couldn't see), and then we turned. But by then, the lights were already turning yellow. So there may still be a problem. It was better before the lights were installed. Generally, in my experience, whenever lights are introduced, or added or altered to "improve" an intersection, the traffic backups and pollution caused by idling vehicles gets worse. Cases in point -- the lights just before you hit NH-University (where the farmers market is held on Wednesday) causes intolerable waits. It was better before the "improvement." Another example -- Eastern Ave and Kansas Lane in D.C. Who decided to replace the perfectly serviceable the four-way stop with lights, which cannot even be seen approaching TP because of trees? Who complained? Might it be possible to persuade our able state legislators to "lobby" SHA for an effective solution at the Junction? (Let's get Neil Pedersen out here and have him sit at the Sycamore light for a while, see how he likes it.) Or introduce legislation that would transfer control of those lights to the county? Probably too much to ask.
Ryan McDermott (Editor) August 26, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Steve - Looks like they're going to try to reset the light in September. We'll see what happens. http://takomapark.patch.com/articles/signal-at-sycamore-and-ethan-allen-to-be-reset

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