Work slated to im­prove poor trac­tion on Old Elk Neck Road

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By CARL HAMIL­TON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— In re­sponse to some se­ri­ous traf­fic ac­ci­dents and com­plaints

ELK­TON

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.

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