Responding to a Nov. 2 request from City of Gaithersburg Councilmember Neil Harris, the State Highway Administration (SHA) studied traffic on MD 28/Darnestown Road near the MD 124/Quince Orchard Road intersection. SHA traffic engineering staff assessed safety concerns related to U-turns being made from MD 28 at Copen Meadow Drive to enter Quince Orchard High School (QOHS). Staff concluded that “the high amount of westbound U-turn volume during the AM peak hour causes unsafe driving conditions at this location,” according to a Jan. 24 letter.
SHA traffic engineering staff recommended a U-turn movement restriction on westbound MD 28 at Copen Meadow Drive from 7 to 9 a.m. This is currently under review for approval by SHA Office of Traffic and Safety. If approved, signage would be installed within 60 days.
“What’s going on right now is a problem. This is a safety hazard that needs to be addressed,” Harris said of morning traffic congestion near the school. “The city can’t fix it, but we can bring it to the attention of the State Highway Administration and bring it to the attention of the school itself. We can help to put a plan together.”
Harris said that he believes “this is a bigger problem than just putting up a no U-turns sign.”
In an email, City Engineering Services Division Chief Ollie Mumpower noted that an analysis is needed for the ability of a vehicle to make a U-turn at the next intersection—MD 28 and Riffle Ford Road. He is concerned that cars may not be able to “complete this movement. If they cannot this restriction will most likely result in these vehicles turning into the residential communities on the south side of MD 28.” He is concerned that the U-turn restriction proposed by SHA will not address the problem of access to the high school parking lot.
Harris said that what is really needed, re-engineering of traffic patterns on the high school grounds itself, is a big undertaking. The high school, he noted, was designed for a lower traffic volume.