Younger residents, those under the age of 30, let’s say, probably don’t know about the Moose Curve in Cumberland. They might say: What the heck’s a Moose Curve? A spare tire on Bullwinkle? It’s a odd name to be sure, but appropriate decades ago when it was used to describe the section of highway once known as U.S. Route 48, now Interstate 68, that carries traffic through the city.
The Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary operates out of a highly visible brick building that for many years housed the Cumberland Moose lodge, a fraternal organization that closed in that location and eventually reopened in Wiley Ford, West Virginia. Motorists eastbound on I-68 pass a sturdy concrete wall to their right, several feet thick, at least several hundred feet long and painted white, that was constructed because of frequent accidents involving tractor-trailers.
That barrier at the Moose Curve was designed to protect nearby homes from being struck by out-of-control rigs and their displaced loads, everything from food products to steel, lumber and flammable liquids. There have been some terrible crashes there over the years, mostly when drivers descending the highway lose control of their trucks because of excessive speed or brake failure or a combination of the two.
A city man died in late April after a rig overturned and came to rest on the car in which he was a passenger. Another tractor-trailer flipped onto its side on the Crosstown Bridge on Thursday.
Maryland’s State Highway Administration operates cameras at numerous locations along I-68, letting residents see traffic and weather conditions, but none is in operation right at the Moose Curve. We think it would be wise for the SHA to install one at that spot given the amount of accidents that occur there.
Law enforcement investigators called upon for reconstruction could benefit from a bird’s-eye, real-time view in the wake of such an incident. It would be even better if the camera footage loops and can be reviewed. In addition, residents could find out when the accident scene has been cleared and traffic is moving again before becoming part of the backup.
The Moose Curve, or more fittingly the Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary Curve, is a perfect storm of roadway design and geographic conditions — a gradual left turn at the bottom of a hill into a congested area. Truckers, who have been climbing and descending mountains for miles before heading into Cumberland, are warned of the risk of tipping over. The speed limit for trucks is 45 mph, and yet overheated brakes and brake failure occur regularly.
A well-placed camera would be an unexpensive way to monitor the endless flow of vehicles that only stops when the road is blocked.