After years of lobbying for safety improvements, Sandy Spring residents and community leaders are seeing the fruits of their labor, as work has begun on Norwood (Md. 182) and Dr. Bird roads in Sandy Spring.
John Salzberg, vice president of the Sandy Spring Civic Association, said the organization has lobbied for safety improvements around the intersection since at least 2009.
State Highway Administration spokesman Christopher Bishop said the project includes the installation of a full traffic signal at the intersection. A left turn lane from eastbound Dr. Bird onto Norwood, as well as a right turn lane from westbound Norwood onto Dr. Bird will be added. The intersection will feature audible and countdown pedestrian signals.
In addition, the curve along a 150-foot portion of Dr. Bird Road just north of Norwood Road will be straightened. Fifteen feet of pavement will be added to either side of the road, for shoulders and a bike lane. Road resurfacing, curb and gutter work, sidewalks and landscaping also are included the project.
Bishop said the project was initially delayed because of a problem with utility relocation, but those issues have been resolved. Completion is expected by late fall.
Motorists can expect shoulder closures from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, he said. Additional lane or shoulder closures likely will take place overnight, as the project progresses.
The cost of the project, which is being shared between the state and county, is $1.2 million.
Joy Turner, corresponding secretary of the Sandy Spring Civic Association and a lifelong resident of Norwood Road, recalls many accidents during the years, including some which involved fatalities.
Turner said research done by the transportation committee of the civic association shows accidents at that location dating back to the late 1960s.
On January 2011, the Gazette reported there had been one fatal collision, 15 collisions involving reports of injury and seven collisions involving property damage at or near the intersection during the previous five-year period, according to the Montgomery County Police Department.
Bim Schauffler of Brookeville remembers the rainy day in 1967 when his mother's Volkswagen Bus overturned at the curve at that intersection. She survived the crash.
In February 2008, Young Hee Cho, 62, was driving east on Dr. Bird Road, approaching Norwood Road, when his 2004 Nissan Quest crossed the double-yellow lines into the oncoming lane. His vehicle collided with a 1997 Dodge Caravan traveling west on Dr. Bird, county police reported.
Cho, who was not wearing a seat belt, died of injuries he suffered in the collision, while the driver of the Caravan was hospitalized with serious injuries.
Salzberg said in addition to the need for safety improvements, residents lobbied for the light because traffic backs up when vehicles are turning left from Dr. Bird onto Norwood, and when turning left from Norwood onto Dr. Bird, it takes “some time” to make the turn safely.
“We have worked with the Sandy Spring Fire Department, Friends House, the Greater Olney Civic Association, Sen. Karen Montgomery (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville, our delegates, and Councilwoman Nancy Navarro to get these improvements made. We are very pleased that the work has finally begun.”
Bishop said the intersection, including accident data, was reviewed by traffic engineers, and met the requirements for signalization.
Chief George Brown of the volunteer fire department also recalls responding to accidents in the area during the years, many of which he attributed to driver error.
“Any improvement made to area roads to keep the citizens safer is a plus as far as I am concerned,” he said.