Returning to Lisbon's Roundabout

February 16, 1994

The crossing of Maryland Routes 2, 408 and 422 in the bayside, southern Anne Arundel County community of Lothian has long been a troublesome intersection for local drivers. Ruled only by a flashing red light and a large stop sign for east-west traffic and a flashing yellow for the north-south flow, this crossroads has been the scene of more than a few accidents caused by drivers who plowed through without heeding the signals.

The State Highway Administration announced late last month that it wants to remedy the situation by replacing the four-way intersection with a traffic circle, or "roundabout," at a cost of about $175,000. It would open later this year, probably by autumn.

This news should have a familiar ring to Howard residents, especially those in the western part of the county. It was only last spring that the SHA opened its first modern roundabout at the former configuration of Routes 144 and 94 in Lisbon.

Similar in scale to the traffic circle planned for Lothian, "the Lisbon Beltway" faced early opposition, just as the Lothian project is now facing from some quarters.

But within a few months, the roundabout in Lisbon had been deemed a happy success by area residents as well as by state and county officials.

Only one accident, a minor side-swiping, has taken place inside the Lisbon circle, and that happened before construction was complete. Quite a noteworthy difference from the preceding five years, when 40 accidents and 49 injuries occurred.

Indeed, the good results in Lisbon encouraged the state to give the green light to three other roundabout projects -- for the Lothian site, at the intersection of Routes 140 and 832 in Carroll County's Taneytown and at Routes 63, 58 and 494 in the Washington County community of Cearfoss.

Howard officials are also looking at a location in Columbia for a circle, but that and other road-related issues are on hold until a county-wide traffic advisory committee makes its recommendations to County Executive Charles I. Ecker around April 1.

In the meantime, nervous residents of Lothian ought to hop in their cars and drive up to Lisbon. For the question of what to do with the hazardous intersection of Routes 2, 408 and 422, they should find that the roundabout answer is the way to go.

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