'Traffic nightmare' is forecast for project

March 04, 1997|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

The construction of a $4.9 million gateway circle on West Street into downtown Annapolis will be a "traffic nightmare," officials warned residents last night at a public hearing before the city council.

While many had high praise for the plans, most residents also expressed concerns that traffic would become unbearable, that the circle was too small, and that it was not "pedestrian-friendly" because the design does not include signals for traffic or pedestrians.

With construction to start in October, city officials unveiled the design plans for the first time to the public yesterday in the hope of getting input and ideas to improve the plans for the circle. About a quarter of the planning work has been completed.

"Although it is going to be a nightmare, it will be slightly less so" because of the work done by city planners and the design team to minimize the problems, said Emory Harrison, director of central services. "We will maintain major traffic flow during construction."

The preliminary plans, created by Cockeysville design consultant Hurst-Rosche Engineers Inc., call for three phases in the project: Phase one includes placing electrical and telephone wires underground, relocating gas and sewer lines and adjusting storm drains in the area.

Phase two includes demolishing various buildings and structures on the site and constructing concrete curbs and pavements.

Phase three includes placing traffic barrels and transferring traffic, constructing the central island and building sidewalks.

To avoid having to move the brick wall surrounding the National Cemetery, at Taylor Avenue and West Street, the traffic circle was shifted to the east, Hurst-Rosche officials said.

Officials said lane closings, detours and construction work at night would be kept to a minimum throughout the project, which is expected to be completed Sept. 15, 1999.

Annapolis resident Chris Keleher criticized the traffic circle as too small and "not pedestrian-friendly." He also told city council members that plans for a two-lane circle were not enough to handle growth in the area, particularly because the nearby Menke-Phipps site is being studied for use as a city convention center. "We're going to build this circle and then realize you need to tear it up and add more lanes," Keleher said.

Pub Date: 3/04/97

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