ELDERSBURG — Sure, there's a war going on and the economy's falling apart.
Butto the 275 South Carroll residents who crammed the Liberty High School cafeteria last week for a meeting with county officials, there wasan even more pressing problem, one that affects them nearly every time they leave their homes.
It's the intersection.
Specifically, it's the recently redesigned intersection at Mineral Hill Road and Conan Doyle Way that they say is an accident waiting to happen.
"It's a joke, it's a fiasco," said Gary Hammond, whose house is less than 200 feet from the intersection.
The intersection was put in about three months ago, when county planning and public works officials followed a 1977 master plan recommendation to make the unfinished Conan Doyle Way into a main road between Route 32 and Route 26.
The redesigned intersection changed Mineral Hill Road from a two-lane, two-way street into a one-way street for a portion of the intersection. Southbound travelers on Mineral Hill must veer right onto Conan Doyle, stop, then re-enter Mineral Hill. Northbound travelers can continue on Mineral Hill.
It is the stretch of one-way road and the confusing shifting of traffic patterns that has area residents so upset.
Residents say that the intersection is dangerous. They also say that instead of obeying the 12 traffic signs at the intersection, motorists routinely go the wrong way on Mineral Hill to avoid having to make the additional turns.
"I shudder every time I get to an intersection with an angle like that," said Stanley G. Martin, a truck driver who lives on nearby OaklandRoad.
Despite residents' claims that the intersection is dangerous, state police had recorded no accidents there as of late Friday.
County officials who heard the pleas of neighborhood residents and motorists said the confusing traffic pattern would be corrected.
Commissioner President Donald I. Dell, speaking at the end of the 90-minute meeting, said he and the other commissioners would decide how tochange the intersection.
"I've been to the intersection three times, and I have satisfied myself that there is a problem," he said tothunderous applause.
"We've heard enough," Dell said. "Perhaps wecan have this changed in the spring. It is a mistake."
More than 25 people spoke during the meeting -- still others shouted, clapped, screamed and otherwise interrupted the proceedings no less than 43 times.
"I certainly didn't expect that many people," said Rob W. Yingling, a county transportation planner. "They must have really organized."
They did organize. A door-to-door campaign netted 313 signatures from Mineral Hill Road-area residents on a petition that was presented to the commissioners Thursday night.
The petition calls forelimination of the new intersection, a return to two-way traffic forthat section of Mineral Hill Road and a stop sign for Conan Doyle Way.
Conan Doyle Way is to be the main road of the 97-unit Sherlock Homes housing development, and is not being built with county money. However, any change to the intersection would come out of the county's pocket.
Commissioners and county planners did not say how the intersection would be changed. The commissioners are expected to decidewhat to do with the intersection in the coming weeks.
Thursday night's public meeting was the second road-related one last week.
On Tuesday, about 40 people showed up at Charles Carroll Elementary School in Silver Run to protest the resurfacing of 2.6 miles of Arters Mill Road in North Carroll.
The $1.5 million project, which would transform the stretch of Arters Mill between Mayberry Road to Blacks Schoolhouse Road from a dirt-and-gravel road to a paved road, is not popular among neighborhood residents.
The project -- which was to be started in July -- already has been pushed back at least until July 1992 as a result of the county's budget crunch.
And, should residents protest loudly enough, the roadway improvements could be eliminated altogether, said Jack Sterling, county public works director.