Fix of 'Malfunction Junction' irks some Berrywood South feeling isolated CENTRAL COUNTY -- Arnold * Broadneck * Severna Park * Crownsville * Millersville

February 11, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

Residents of Berrywood South are complaining that alterations to "Malfunction Junction," the seven-way jumble tTC where Robinson Road and Route 648 crisscross Ritchie Highway, are making them feel even more isolated within their East Severna Park community.

Those complaints were voiced loudly at Tuesday night's meeting of the Greater Severna Park Council, after Dan Nataf, the council's public works committee chairman, spoke glowingly of the changes and their effect on what is routinely rated as one of the state's worst traffic intersections.

Among the changes, completed about six months ago, was a prohibition of left turns from Arundel Beach Road onto Ritchie Highway. That means that some 2,000 residents of several communities east of the highway are prohibited from turning south directly onto Ritchie Highway. The trial period for changes in the intersection ended in December.

Mr. Nataf said the number of people coming off Arundel Beach Road or what used to be Route 648 and turning onto Ritchie Highway has decreased by 40 percent. Most are instead using a realigned Route 648, which intersects with Ritchie north of Malfunction Junction.

Ken Bargteil, speaking for Berrywood South, said residents in his small community feel "increasingly alienated from the Greater Severna Park Council and the community. We're backed in there. We cannot get in or out of our community if we have to cross Route 2."

At Tuesday's meeting, hot words were exchanged between east side residents and other council members. One east side resident fumed at Mr. Nataf: "You can't take an attitude like you've got right now."

But Mr. Nataf, who has worked with the SHA for years to find solutions for the junction, summarizes the situation this way: "We saw a dangerous situation in the middle of Ritchie, and we tried to figure out something that's better in general, though worse for some. Those for whom it's worse seem to have no interest in the larger picture."

The public works chairman added that it's "silly to sit here and blame the [council] for having deserted a community or having created the problem. The problem existed before I was born."

Mr. Bargteil said he doesn't disagree with statistics showing that the changes have helped alleviate some dangerous traffic patterns. "My point is this. Statistics don't tell the whole story. At some point, the adverse impact on a particular community outweighs any benefit the larger community derives," said Mr. Bargteil, a vice president with an international freight forwarding company.

He said Severna Park schools and the library are on the opposite side of Ritchie from his home, and that a Berrywood South resident has been told that her daughter shouldn't attend special classes at Severna Park High because it was too hard for the school bus to get to her home.

"If we aren't going to have access to the schools, then I've spent $20,000 more on my home to be in the Severna Park school district for nothing," Mr. Bargteil said.

There are 78 households in the Berrywood South Community Association, but other communities, such as Cape Arthur, say they also have been adversely affected by the changes.

"It appears to me there is little concern by the residents who live on the western side of Route 2 for the interest of those who live on the eastern side," Mr. Bargteil said.

Mr. Nataf noted that the council created a subcommittee to deal with the issue and has had numerous meetings with state officials, as well as representatives of Berrywood South. "We have gone to enormous lengths to have people's views aired, and we do the best we can with the multifaceted constraints we face. Everybody wants a win-win outcome. Sometimes that's not possible."

Council President Pat Troy said the council is concerned with Berrywood South's objections, "but we don't know the answer to Malfunction Junction. Neither does the SHA. Frequently communities are hurt by positions that we take. Sometimes the individual community prevails, sometimes it doesn't."

Mr. Nataf said a partial solution would involve creating a left-turn lane during off-peak hours at the Arundel Beach Road intersection. But Mr. Bargteil said off-peak hours won't help him or dozens of other commuters.

"Certainly Malfunction Junction was no jewel of highway planning when we moved into the community several years ago, but at least we had access to the community without too much trouble," he said. "Unfortunately, the council takes the position that because the community at large has seen some benefit, our suffering can be discounted."

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