SHA: No Plans To Change Great Seneca Speed Limit

Four serious accidents, including three fatals, have occurred along Great Seneca Highway in 2012.

The Maryland State Highway Administration has no plans to reconsider the 50 mph speed limit on Great Seneca Highway (Route 119) following the road's third fatal accident of 2012, SHA spokesperson David Buck told Patch.

A 69-year-old Gaithersburg woman was killed Sunday evening in a car crash on Great Seneca Highway at Lakelands Drive in the Kentlands area of Gaithersburg.

Less than two weeks earlier, a 24-year-old Germantown man was killed after a collision at the intersection of Great Seneca Highway and Longdraft Road.

The SHA will review the operations at those intersections after the final fatal crash report is submitted by police, Buck said. Police said the victims turned directly in front of motorists in both recent crashes.

"It is important to note more than 93 percent of all crashes in Maryland are attributed to driver error," Buck told Patch. "SHA certainly plays a major role in keeping roads safe through engineering and education, but motorists need to do their part every day by driving defensively and giving full attention to their driving responsibilities."

Learn how the State Highway Administration sets speed limits in Maryland

Concerns about the speed limit in the area should be directed to Montgomery County Police, Buck said.

However, following a study of the Great Seneca and Kenlands Boulevard/Orchard Ridge Drive intersection, the SHA does plan to install a "Turning Traffic Yield to Pedestrians" sign on the overhead traffic signal wire and re-time the pedestrian crossing time, Buck said.

The study did not indicate a need during peak hour traffic volumes for exclusive or exclusive/permissive left-turn phasing for the side street, according to a June letter from the SHA to Del. Luiz Simmons.

"A review of the crash data from the most recently available three-year period did not reveal a pattern of crashes correctable by implementation of the left-turn phase for the side streets," the letter reads.

The SHA is also is developing concepts to extend the left-turn lane on westbound Orchard Ridge Drive, Buck said, but the project is not currently funded for design or construction.

September's fatal accidents brought the number of serious accidents on the road in 2012 to four, Montgomery County Police spokeswoman Janelle Smith said.

In August, a Rockville man was killed after being thrown from his motorcycle on Great Seneca near High Gables Drive. A non-fatal collision involving a pedestrian occurred in February at Great Seneca and Kentlands Boulevard.

Smith defined a "serious" accident as one in which MCPD's Collision Reconstruction Unit responds to investigate the scene.

Acknowledging the number of accidents on Great Seneca, Gaithersburg Police Department spokesperson Dan Lane said police presence and enforcement on the road is a priority.

"The Gaithersburg Police is concerned wherever we have injury-related collisions, especially fatal collisions, and have been conducting routine enforcement of speeding and aggressive driving along this corridor," Lane said. 

Joe Thomas September 28, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Most of the fatalities involved failure to yield right of way. Why do people immediately jump to the conclusion that speed was a factor?
Sharon September 28, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Speed AND failure are both factors in most of these accidents. Complaints & concerns have also been registered time & time again regarding MidCounty Highway from the Village Avenue to Goshen Road (& beyond...all the way to Shady Grove Road). Speed limit WAS 45 mph. Rather than dealing with the speeding issue, Dept of Transportation merely posted new signs raising speed limit to 50 mph. Guess Transportation figured "if you can't beat 'em (speeders) join 'em". So as the speeding continues & the often ignoring of yielding to traffic when coming off of Montgomery Village Avenue (sounds like the Indianapolis Speedway particularly from 11 PM & into wee hrs of the morning), guess what citizens can expect from the Powers That Be is crew members out there replacing posted speed signs with continued increases. Like DUH! What's with that as a remedy!!! Rhetorical! And MidCounty runs precariously in the middle of two (2) Village residential communities...Cider Mill and Nathans Hill with no real protective (safety) wall or fencing. Holding my breath for horrific accident involving innocent residents particularly since MidCounty traffic has tripled in commercial vehicle (cargo trucks, heavy-duty construction trucks, etc).
Robert C. Thompson September 28, 2012 at 05:19 PM
People are on their phones and texting and not paying attention to traffic rules.
Barbara September 28, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Great Seneca was designed and built for HIGH SPEED. Unfortunate but it's like having I-270 running thru residential communities, people on long journeys, people just trying to go shopping or to get home. I don't think more signs or changing speed limits will make any difference. It's all about drivers behaviour out there...DRIVE DEFENSIVE, not AGGRESIVE
Sharon September 28, 2012 at 09:35 PM
I have often compared or referred to MidCounty in Montgomery Village as the same, Barbara, when communicating my concerns with the Department of Transportation..,the "new & extended 270". It's a 'concrete and asphalt jungle' out there & it isn't gonna get better.Unfortunately!!!!
Sharon September 28, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Dan September 29, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Drivers need to pay attention to driving instead of texting or chatting with their friends on the phone. I am always amazed when I see someone backing out of a parking spot with a cellphone to their ear. WHAT IS SO IMPORTANT that you could not wait until you pull out of the spot? Everyone needs to put their freaking cellphones away while behind the wheel!!
Sharon September 30, 2012 at 03:47 AM
From the Town Courier 50 mins ago, 9/29/2012 (current time 11:44 PM) Alert: Collision at Great Seneca Hwy. & Kentlands Blvd. Police and Fire & Rescue are on the scene
Sharon September 30, 2012 at 04:09 AM
SHA, you better make 'some sort of change' 'cause this is getting 'totally insane'!!!!
LibertyJayne September 30, 2012 at 05:29 PM
It doesn't matter what the posted speed limit is, most people keep with the flow of others at about 60-65. Spontaneous order works. Accidents happen in every speed zone and are generally caused by human error. The latest accident happened because of the human error and the bad judgement of an elderly man who was making a left turn. I do see a lot of people on their cell phones while driving in the Kentlands; ignoring yield signs in traffic circles and completely acting as though they are the only ones that exist. My point: human error.
Joe Thomas October 01, 2012 at 02:21 PM
That was a right-of-way incident also. Nothing to do with speed.
Joe Thomas October 01, 2012 at 02:22 PM
How did this discussion turn into a forum on cell phone usage? The three fatals on Great Seneca had nothing to do with people using cell phones. Two of the deceased were riding motorcycles.
Thomas October 01, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Another section of Great Seneca Hwy which is dangerous is between Clopper Road and Dawson Farm Rd. I live in the Fountain Hills Development and hear motorcyles starting in either direction revving their motors and speeding down Great Seneca. By the time they hit Mateny Dr which is half way between Clopper and Dawson Farm they have to be going at least 70-80 mph. I am waiting for a serious accident to happen there as well. Its just a matter of time. I think police should set up speed traps along the whole stretch of GSH. What I find amusing is, there are 55 MPH speed signs posted with 'Speed Strickly Enforced'. How often do you see cops on GSH.
Joe Thomas October 01, 2012 at 03:35 PM
The police academy is on Great Seneca Hgwy so there are police in and out of there all day long.
thomas deckard October 01, 2012 at 06:09 PM
but you do not see them setting up speed traps or radar. NO..another idea is to place speed cameras along certain sections of GSH...
Tony Sinnott December 26, 2012 at 06:08 PM
What bothers me is the lack of street lighting maintenance on major roads like Great Seneca or 270 that at times has no lights operational for mile long stretches. Is this due to budget cutbacks, laziness or incompetence? The one road in MOCO that is totally well lit is the Montrose bypass. With pedestrian fatalities the way they are here, we need the lights to be working.
joe cav February 24, 2013 at 04:14 PM
What's more? on any decent evening, kids are RACING on GSH at speeds exceeding 100 mph. They turn into Orchard Valley Community then head towards Mateny Road. The coppers have an academy. Maybe they are out there training?


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