MOUNT AIRY — The town anticipates paying $70,000 or more to reduce traffic problems at a confusing intersection financed and built by the state just two years ago.
Dissatisfied with the developing traffic pattern, town officials met with State Highway Administration engineers Wednesday at the intersection of Ridgeville Boulevard West and Route 27, nearthe Mount Airy Shopping Center, to discuss a new alignment.
Councilman Marc Nance and town engineer Bob Brinson said the estimated cost of the construction equals Mount Airy's entire allocation for several capital improvement projects in fiscal 1992.
Nance said the town intends to seek financial assistance from the developer ofthe shopping center, Ronald Cohen Management Co. of Rockville, Montgomery County, and individual merchants. He also said the developer had indicated a willingness to contribute.
Merchants have complainedthat motorists cut through the shopping center at excessive speeds from Ridgeville Boulevard West to get to Ridge Avenue. SHA's design isintended to channel traffic onto Route 27 before rejoining Ridge Avenue.
Intersection adjustments would benefit residents and center businesses equally, said Nance.
Nance and Brinson contend the Town Council disagreed with the state's design before construction but SHAsaid the plan was not negotiable. The state paid for the project, then turned over ownership of the interchanges to Mount Airy. Nance said officials began noticing traffic problems soon after the project was done.
"That's part of the water under the bridge," Nance said. "We got a roadway we didn't want."
Nance told SHA officials the traffic pattern at the shopping center poses liability problems for the town. The center's management responded by constructing speed bumps on the access road, which spurred additional complaints from residents.
A second intersection leading to both the shopping center and Ridge Avenue from Route 27 also has caused problems, Nance said. Sight distance is poor, and motorists have disobeyed directional signs, said Nance.
"We need something to be done here," he told the SHA. "It's a matter of what we'll be allowed to do."
The contingent agreedon a proposal after reviewing traffic flow maps and observing the intersection. The new configuration would allow motorists to turn left on Ridge Avenue from Ridgeville Boulevard West without having to travel on busier Route 27.
"It was a very profitable meeting," said Brinson.
The town directed its traffic consultant to draw up a plan,which needs state approval because the changes involve intersectionswith Route 27, a state road. SHA won't finance construction, set to start next spring.
"The scheme we have here now is basically good,but cutting through the shopping center is not good," said Tom Hicks, SHA deputy chief engineer. "This intersection is bound to become busier in the future. We have to come to grips with it."