Citizens Mitigate Dangerous Excavation on Muirkirk
UPDATE Jan 16 8:30 am: Sure enough, the hole was back and two more hubcaps testified to a rough night for drivers. But by 10:30 am WSSC was repairing the valve and the excavation. At 12:30 pm they left the hole filled with more durable asphalt and no valve visible.
UPDATE Jan 15 5 pm: Sometime on the Monday holiday, the excavation was filled with loose aggregate, which by dark had been mostly knocked out by repeated traffic creating three large potholes which together were almost as large as the original excavation. All traffic cones and the DPW&T sign were removed and placed next to a tree on the adjacent verge. In the waning sunlight, some westbound drivers could still see the hole and were swerving left to avoid it, putting them into the on-coming westbound left-turn only lane. Sometime Monday night into Tuesday morning that hole will likely again become as dangerous as it was Saturday night.
This is not a "pothole story". This is about someone who created and left a very dangerous situation in our community.
Sometime Saturday, January 13, unidentified workers repairing the road at a fire hydrant's WSSC supply valve in the one and only westbound lane of Muirkirk Road near Rt. 197 left their work uncompleted with no traffic control barriers to prevent cars driving into the 2 foot by 3 foot by 8-inch deep excavation, shaped more like a tank trap than a pothole.
As evidenced by at least 6 hubcaps at the scene, sometime that rainy Saturday night into Sunday morning an untold number of cars hit that uncovered excavation, damaging vehicles (at a minimum wheel alignment), possibly injuring passengers, and risking head-on collision with opposing traffic (see below).
A father and son returning from their jolting experience Saturday night looking in vain for their lost hubcap, said that when they came through there was nothing to warn them about the excavation before they hit it. So the comically tiny traffic cone observed at 1030 Sunday morning January 14 most likely was left by another victim desperately trying to help others avoid the same fate in the dark of night. A passer-by contributed two large safety cones.
Even with citizen-provided warnings in place for the westbound traffic , the most danger was from westbound cars swerving suddenly and unexpectedly around the hazard (else risk being rear-ended by cars following close behind leaving the Rt 197 intersection) and so risk running into cars coming eastbound in the left-turn only lane -- so another two cones were added by a citizen on the yellow line to alert eastbound traffic (without changing their traffic pattern).
Police responded quickly to a citizen call at 1030 Sunday morning to the P.G. Public Safety number 301-352-1200 and assessed the situation. Public Safety called P.G. Department of Public Works and Transportation. DPW&T arrived apparently within an hour or so, putting a sign at the excavation and leaving the citizen-provided cones in place. Reference Public Safety service number: 07-014-0663 Jan 14, 2007
Presumably DPW&T will contact those responsible for the road work (WSSC) to quickly and properly complete it with appropriate traffic safety measures on this and future work -- such as covering excavations with steel plates.