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Detour to a Dead End

Drivers perplexed by the detour signs guiding them around the shutdown Grosvenor Lane Bridge over Interstate 270 in Bethesda should find them changed by the end of today, and that will be a good thing.

Sign 1.jpg Follow this detour sign on Old Georgetown ...

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Laughably, but true, the Maryland State Highway Administration has placed signs on Old Georgetown Road that lead drivers to the construction site rather than around it. After going a mile out of their way, a driver must make a U-Turn and return to Old Georgetown Road.

Then, there are no signs leading them to Tuckerman Lane or West Cedar Lane. It is a long detour, with many possible incorrect turns for those not familiar with the area or without GPS systems. Many signs are needed.
Rochelle Follender

Fortunately, I had my GPS on Thursday afternoon, for indeed, just as our letter writer says, the detour signs at Old Georgetown Road, Cheshire Drive and Grosvenor Lane lead drivers straight to the closed bridge. There were no other signs, other than those set up in both directions on Old Georgetown directing traffic straight to the problem.

Sign 2.jpg To this detour sign on Cheshire Drive ...

In the few minutes I was at the bridge, which is undergoing a needed rehab scheduled to be complete by Aug. 29, I saw a dozen drivers approach the bridge, just as the highway administration told them to, stop and turn around. They may still be wandering around, because there were no other signs to direct them.

What they wanted to do is drive nearly a mile farther north on Old Georgetown Road and make a right on Tuckerman Lane to cross over I-270 and reach Rockville Pike, or drive about a mile and a half south on Old Georgetown and make a left on West Cedar Lane to reach the pike.

All the other detour and warning signs on the Beltway and the pike seemed fine for getting drivers over to Old Georgetown Road.

Sign 3.jpg Past this sign on Grosvenor Lane ...

Chuck Gischlar, spokesman for SHA, gave this more specific description of the sign fix and an update on the bridge project:

Additional signs are being fabricated to be placed along MD 187 (Old Georgetown Road) to more clearly guide motorists to the appropriate detour roadway. The additional signs will help motorists use West Cedar Lane and Tuckerman Lane as alternates to reaching MD 355 (Rockville Pike).
In addition to standard detour signs, SHA will install two 9'X7" signs along each direction of MD 187. The northbound sign will read "Notice Grosvenor Lane Closed over I-270 Use Tuckerman Lane" and the southbound sign will read " Notice Grosvenor Lane closed Over I-270 Use W. Cedar Lane".
Sign 4.jpg ... Straight to this sign. (Robert Thomson)
These signs should be in place by the end of the week [Friday]. SHA apologizes for any inconvenience to motorists that were using the detour and thanks them for their continued patience as we work hard to improve the Grosvenor Lane Bridge.
SHA should be completed demolition of the bridge deck by the beginning of next week. Following the demolition phase, SHA can begin preparing for the installation of the new bridge deck.

[If you were wondering why they didn't just yank out those signs that were misleading the drivers, Gischlar said they actually were serving a purpose: They were meant for drivers who first saw the detour signs over on the Rockville Pike side and were following them to their completion on the western side of Grosvenor Lane. That's what the "End Detour" sign was meant to represent and that's why the other signs in the sequence say "Grosvenor Lane" on top.

"We apologize for this error," Gischlar said. The new signs should be in today, but to be safe, he said, but to be safe, SHA is going to install two portable variable message signs along both directions along Old Georgetown Road to alert motorists about the bridge closure and provide detour routes.]

By Robert Thomson  |  July 27, 2007; 5:24 AM ET
Categories:  Construction  
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They have to fabricate MORE signs? Why? Logic would say that they should just reposition the signs they have, currently in the wrong place. This would be almost comical if it didn't impact real people's commutes. Where is quality control at MD SHA? Does anyone's supervisor actually get out from behind his or her desk and spot check work like this? It seems they only change/improve stuff when people who have connections complain. How aggravating.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | July 27, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Cyan, yes, I think SHA should have just yanked the signs out to avoid confusion, but here's why they were there: They're supposed to help drivers who began following the detour signs on Rockville Pike and want to complete a trip to the western portion of Grosvenor Lane. That's why the "End Detour" sign is there.
Two problems with that. Many drivers on Old Georgetown who wanted to use the Grosvenor Lane Bridge haven't seen any other signs till they encounter the "Detour" signs that lead them straight to the obstruction. The other thing is, if you're coming from Rockville Pike and trying to reach the community on the western side of the bridge, you've probably done that before and know exactly where you are. You're not likely to need signs pointing you into that neighborhood.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | July 27, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

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