Another Round with Roundabouts

May 24, 1994

Seemingly as fast as an automaker's assembly line produces another car, that's how quickly the State Highway Administration has located troublesome intersections where old-fashioned roundabouts, or traffic circles, can solve the problem.

Since installing its first modern roundabout a year ago in the western Howard County community of Lisbon, the SHA has pinpointed several other vexing crossroads where it would like to put roundabouts. One of these is at Maryland Routes 140 and 832 in Taneytown, an intersection where an unusually high number of accidents has occurred. It is due to be reconfigured by the fall of 1995.

Among the other sites are those at Routes 2, 408 and 422 in the southern Anne Arundel County community of Lothian, where a roundabout should be in place by this fall, and at Routes 63, 58 and 494 in the Washington County town of Cearfoss. That project is still in the planning stage.

The crossroad added most recently to the list is one that has bedeviled drivers and traffic engineers for decades -- the crazy confluence of York, Joppa and Dulaney Valley roads and Allegheny Avenue in Towson, Baltimore County's seat.

Various solutions have been offered over the years. Some, mercifully, never made it off the drawing board (then-County Executive Spiro Agnew's underground tunnel linking York and Dulaney Valley roads, for example); others were tried and found lacking (a Towson County Councilman's ordering of a Jersey barrier blocking southbound traffic on York). A roundabout, however, sounds like the best idea that has yet been devised for dealing with this notorious crossing.

The Towson circle, though, will prove a special challenge. It would have heavier traffic volume and more entry and exit points than the standard four-way intersection. In addition, its construction at this busy spot would create more hassles than did the building of the roundabout in rural Lisbon.

These and other concerns aside, the Towson circle could be a good permanent solution to the crossing's traffic troubles.

The project is still being discussed and probably wouldn't reach fruition for a year or two. By then, this relatively new fascination with the old-fashioned roundabout may seem rather old-hat in Carroll County and elsewhere.

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