State hoping to fix traffic bottleneck

June 30, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

State officials are still looking for ways to eliminate the traffic bottleneck on Mountain Road while ensuring the safety of a nearby Pasadena neighborhood that has become a shortcut for harried motorists.

One solution proposed by neighbors -- putting a barrier across residential Woods Road -- has been rejected by county officials. Motorists who are using the Woods Road as a bypass objected to the proposal, saying the barrier would make Mountain Road congestion worse.

Eight thousand cars use Woods Road each day -- 5,000 to 6,000 as a shortcut or through street. The opening of the Lake Shore Athletic Complex this fall is expected to add 1,000 to 3,000 cars during peak hours.

A $10 million project to widen Mountain Road from Route 100 to South Carolina Avenue was put on hold in November by State Highway Administration officials, who cited dwindling resources.

State Sen. Philip C. Jimeno said yesterday that he is "very close getting [highway officials] to establish us as a priority" for funding, but in the meantime he wants to implement a few "Band-Aid" solutions that may relieve traffic on Mountain Road.

One stopgap provision already has been completed: establishing two lanes on Mountain Road at the Lake Shore Drive intersection. The left lane is for through traffic only, and the right lane is for turning and through traffic. The two lanes merge back into one after about 600 feet.

The traffic signal at that intersection has also been reprogrammed to give Mountain Road traffic additional green light time -- up to six minutes, depending on traffic flow.

Other improvements state highway administration officials are considering, which could be completed as early as September, include:

* Adding a traffic light at Mountain Road and Route 100.

* Creating a second left turn lane from Mountain Road for motorists entering westbound Route 100.

Mr. Jimeno said these solutions may help ease congestion, but that motorists need a more permanent solution.

"These are only short-term, Band-Aid solutions to the problem," Mr. Jimeno said. "We'll never have relief until they get a long-term widening of Mountain Road."

Cliff Phelps, a Mountain Road resident and merchant who called a town meeting earlier this month to discuss the possible closure of Woods Road, said the proposed improvements should eliminate the problems of his Chelsea Beach neighbors.

"By relieving pressure on Mountain Road, nobody's going to want to use Woods Road," he said.

He added that people in his community were also pleased that, for now, Woods Road will remain open.

"They were very happy. They felt it was a more reasonable and a more rational way to go. A lot of my customers came in and said, 'Boy, I'm glad you caught that one,' " Mr. Phelps said.

Barney Biancavilla, president of the Chelsea Beach Residents Association, was disappointed with the county officials' decision.

He said his community proposed to close the shortcut because of the accidents at the intersection of Magothy Beach and Woods roads.

"Safety ought to be the paramount issue on that corner and not convenience," he said. "If there's an accident at that corner and they recommended that Woods Road stayed open, do [politicians] have a liability?"

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