Oakland Mills board forms traffic panel

August 02, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

Hoping to resuscitate county government efforts to handle traffic problems in Oakland Mills, village board members have formed their own traffic committee.

The opening of Broken Land Parkway nearly two years ago has spawned new problems on previously quiet streets throughout the East Columbia community, frustrated members say.

"There have been a lot of residents who have called, either to the office or to village board members to express concerns about traffic, particularly on Stevens Forest, Kilimanjaro and Farewell roads," said Village Manager Erin Peacock. "One of the problems is speed; one of the problems is [drivers] running stop signs."

David A. Hatch, chairman of the village Board of Directors, said that the new committee hopes to carry on where County Councilman C. Vernon Gray's East Side Traffic Committee left off.

"It really has kind of languished. The Department of Public Works used it as a forum to kind of tell their side of things," Mr. Hatch said.

Mr. Gray said the volunteer committee has finished its work.

"Their purpose was to look at traffic flow and distribution," Mr. Gray said. A study performed by an engineering firm for the committee, he said, "indicated that there was nothing warranted at this time."

Not satisfied with that, Mr. Hatch, fellow board member Eric Bauman and village residents who sign up to serve on the committee will be sending out letters to council candidates.

"We'd just like to know what ideas they have and what help they may be prepared to render," Mr. Hatch said.

Ironically, the source of the village's traffic woes seems to be progress in other areas.

The last major thoroughfare in Columbia's carefully planned road network, Broken Land Parkway, created a swift link between Town Center, Oakland Mills, Owen Brown and Kings Contrivance.

While it helped bring east and west Columbia closer together, it also shifted traffic onto some comparatively quiet streets.

"Traffic patterns have changed dramatically in the last several years," said county Public Works Director James M. Irvin. "A lot of traffic has shifted to the south."

Although those shifts, resulting from traffic gravitating toward Broken Land Parkway instead of Route 175, have added traffic to Stevens Forest, Farwell and Kilimanjaro roads, they have also reduced traffic in some problem areas, Mr. Irvin said.

Both Thunder Hill and Oakland Mills roads are getting less traffic, which has caused a county policy shift in the case of Oakland Mills.

The one major change contemplated by county traffic planners for east Columbia was an interchange connecting Oakland Mills Road to Route 175. But Mr. Gray said the cost of the project, combined with the shift in traffic, prompted county officials to scuttle the idea.

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