Vol. 9, No. 12
March 22-28, 2001
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‘Killer Pole’ Strikes Back
By Bill Papian

Well, figuratively speaking, the 'killer pole' has struck again. Strictly speaking, Bell-Atlantic (Verizon) telephone pole number 61 on Shady Side Road (Rt. 468), has been struck again for the umpteenth time. Fortunately no fatality and no serious injury, to people that is, resulted. The pole itself was somewhat injured; it had to be straightened up. The recently installed yellow warning sign in front of it will, no doubt, have to be replaced. Had the State Highway Administration not removed the nearby big old tree after the last fatal accident, this one might have been much more serious.

What is it with that pole? I've checked it with a magnetometer, and it ain't magnetic. It must be something about that curve, the middle one of the three, just over the line into Churchton, and well known to old timers in Shady Side as "dead man's curve." The police, the firefighters, the highway people and I all agree that there's not as much wrong with the curve as there is with the people driving around it. Yes, you and me. Speeding and recreational substances - teen-age hormones, alcohol and drugs - play major roles.

All of which leads me to a short report on what is being planned for Route 468 from its intersection at Galesville to its end deep in Shady Side. At a meeting at the Kiwanis hall after that last fatal accident, feelings ran high and all the emphasis was strongly on improving the safety of the road, especially along dead man's curve and its two adjoining sister curves.

The police reacted quickly with stepped-up traffic control, the Highway Department with rumble strips and signs, and the legislators (primarily Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller) with the inclusion of money in the appropriate budgets for upgrading the road. There have been some smaller meetings since with the State Highway Department, the board of directors of the Shady Side Peninsula Association, representatives from Galesville, Churchton, West River, the Deale-Shady Side Small Area Planning Committee, the police and fire departments, the county administration and our legislators. Tentative plans and options for the work were tossed around, and we all agreed to work on the problem.

Short-term improvements were limited to those mentioned above. Pole 61 was not moved back, so until the serious road improvements are made a couple of years from now, we must stop driving carelessly around that curve.

We face a serious problem in planning the improvements. On the one hand, all of us want significant safety improvements to Route 468. On the other, most of us do not want a highway or a 'new road' down here. So, serious compromises will have to be worked out, particularly with respect to the homes that are close to the road. We simply must not allow added shoulders, and their associated ditches, to end up within just a few feet of the dwellings presently in place.

How to accomplish this requires that a large number of compromises be worked out over the coming months between the highway people's standards and our needs. I believe that, with the help of the county administration and our legislators, significant safety improvement can be accomplished without serious dislocation.

pBill Papian, a regular commentator in Bay Weekly, is a retired professor of electrical engineering.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly