FREDERICK, Md. — Crews from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) began installing a guardrail along Route 15 in Frederick, Md. Sunday evening after a tanker truck carrying fuel exploded along Apple Avenue on Mar. 4.
MDOT informed residents during a community meeting on Wednesday night that the new barrier was a short-term solution to the ongoing traffic issues along the busy highway.
"Due to the serious nature of this crash and the gap left behind by the removal of the tree, we tried to expedite the review," said Andrew Radcliffe, an MDOT District Engineer to the crowd.
MDOT told residents they are also assessing other segments along Route 15 that may require a barrier.
Some residents like Sandra Bynaker have mixed emotions about the new guardrail. "I am glad they got it pushed through, but we still need a wall. I asked them directly is a guard rail going to stop a tanker, no," she told WUSA9.
Residents along Apple Avenue say they have been asking for a barrier for years, but the recent explosion exposed how vulnerable their homes are to another tragedy.
Ronald Heiston Jr., 58, of Smithsburg, Maryland veered off the highway and crashed into a tree along Apple Avenue which ended in an explosion. The tree was the only thing that stopped the tanker truck from crashing into the homes in the area.
One home was deemed inhabitable after it was charred by the flames and two other houses and several vehicles were damaged.
Neighbors close to the explosion scene have put up signs that say "We want a wall to protect our families and our homes."
MDOT says construction on a sound barrier could start by the Fall of 2026. The state agency is also planning on widening the highway by adding a third lane in each direction.
"We could have saved the money for the guard rail and the fence they're going to eventually build and just put up a wall," said Bynaker who has started a petition and has been collecting signatures to expedite the process of building the wall. She is asking Frederick residents and drivers to contact her if they would like to be a part of the petition by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.