Intersection plans discussed by city

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Cumberland Times-News, September 12, 2012

Matthew Bieniek

CUMBERLAND — Relief could be on the way for motorists making the daily slog through the slow Industrial Boulevard/Virginia Avenue intersection if a proposed remaking of the intersection goes as planned.

“We looked at a lot of options. ... The biggest problem is the Virginia Avenue underpass,” said George Small of the State Highway Administration.

SHA officials presented the results of an extensive study of the intersection to the mayor and city council during Tuesday evening’s council meeting.

“We measured the intersection operation like a school report card,” Small said, and grades were assigned to the current operation and what would happen with various alternative fixes.

“The overall operation is a D. We can increase it to a B,” said Small. “Taken overall, we can make a rather significant improvement,” Small said.

The improvements would speed the flow of traffic and shave as much as 20 to 50 seconds off the typical maneuvering through the intersection, depending on which direction a driver is going.

One key point of the SHA-proposed alternative is a left-hand turn lane allowing traffic on West Industrial Boulevard to turn back onto East Industrial Boulevard and then go under the underpass. That change would be needed because Virginia Avenue would become a one-way street between the boulevards. The move would still save time, though, compared to the current configuration, said Small.

A meeting for public input will be scheduled, probably in October, city and SHA officials said. No final plan has been decided.

Cumberland Mayor Brian Grim was concerned that the proposal could actually slow traffic. A light would be added on the eastbound boulevard at Mexico Farms. Small said even with an additional light, traffic would move more quickly with the new configuration.

Grim and council members said they were also concerned about the impact on businesses in the area, particularly Little Caesars Pizza, which could lose one entryway with the proposed changes.

Several other proposals have been rejected because they would involve taking large pieces of land and residences to revamp the road and intersection.

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