Work slated to improve poor traction on Old Elk Neck Road
— In response to some serious traffic accidents and complaints
from nearby residents, the roads division of the Cecil County Department of Public Works is planning a construction project to improve traction on a section of Old Elk Neck Road near Elkton, according to Ken Newcomb, assistant superintendent of that division.
Crews will embark on the project “within the next 60 days,” and the work is expected to take “one to two days” to complete, he said. During the “micro-surfacing” project, workers will apply a “coarse” material to Old Elk Neck Road between Jones Chapel Road and Justice Way, approximately a 1-mile segment, to improve traction, he added.
Newcomb told the Cecil Whig about the planned project on Friday, a day after the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office and the State Highway Administration closed that section of road for about two hours to test the road surface.
On Thursday morning, an SHA crew checked the road with a “friction tester,” which is a trailer hooked up to a computer that can measure the friction, or resistance, of a road surface under various conditions, according to Newcomb.
“It skids wheels. It sprays water,” Newcomb said, giving some examples of the scenarios created during the friction tests.
Investigators with the CCSO Accident Reconstruction Team were on scene during the testing because they have handled numerous serious accidents on the section of Old Elk Neck Road during the past year, including two resulting in three deaths, according to Lt. Michael Holmes, an agency spokesman.
“We don’t handle a lot of fatal accidents, but we have handled a few there,” Holmes said.
In addition, the agency has received “complaints from residents in that area” about the surface on that portion of road, he reported.
“They’ve complained that the road is unusually slippery after it rains,” Holmes explained.
According to Newcomb, results of the friction tests that were performed on Thursday won’t be available for about a week. The tests were done to see if that segment of Old Elk Neck Road meets a standard for road surface friction.
But even with the friction test results pending, county roads officials have decided that the record of fatal and serious crashes on that section of Old Elk Neck Road is enough reason to move forward with the project to improve traction, he reported.
“Regardless of whether it (friction test data) is good or bad, we’re going to do something,” Newcomb said, adding, “You can’t put a price on somebody getting harmed. We feel obligated to make it even safer.”
On Christmas Eve day, a 53-year-old Elkton woman was killed when her car veered off Old Elk Neck Road near Justice Way and struck a tree in a single-vehicle accident, according to Cecil Whig archives.
It marked the second fatal accident on that section of Old Elk Neck Road in a two-month period.
On Nov. 5, two Chestertown residents were killed in a two-vehicle crash in the 2400 block of Old Elk Neck Road, also near Justice Way, and two other people suffered non-life-threatening injuries that sent them to an area hospital.