Neighbors cannot find the road to compromise Worthington-area traffic problems spark debate

November 07, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

More than 200 residents of the greater Worthington area of Ellicott City agreed last night that Worthington Way -- the only way in and out of the neighborhood -- has too much traffic.

But the residents couldn't find a solution that would relieve congestion and please everyone.

At a public workshop at Worthington Elementary School, the nine-member Worthington Vicinity Task Force discussed two recommendations it plans to submit to Howard County officials.

But residents in the audience voiced differences over a proposal to connect Doncaster and Hale Haven drives, which would divert 66 percent of the traffic from well-traveled Worthington Way to narrower Hale Haven Drive.

"It's a bandage, suspender type of thing," said Dick Thiem, a 30-year resident of Doncaster Drive. "I am very much opposed to it. "

Countered Ann Brasseaux, who has lived in Worthington for 33 years: "We've been putting up with that traffic for years. Why can't they?"

Development of the Worthington area began more than 40 years ago. Traffic congestion became a problem over the past five years when about 500 houses were built. Several hundred more residences are planned.

Worthington Way, which runs through the original Worthington subdivision, is the only route in and out of several of the newer communities north of the original development.

Much of the traffic comes to a halt at the busy intersection with Montgomery Road, clogging Worthington Way.

The task force, formed in June to study the road network bounded by New Cut, Bonnie Branch and Montgomery roads and College Avenue, recently voted, 8-1, to recommend joining New Cut Road and Chews Vineyard.

County engineers have estimated that the new road would divert almost 28 percent of the traffic from Worthington Way.

But the committee voted, 5-4, along neighborhood lines, to recommend connecting Doncaster Drive to Hale Haven Drive. Although engineers estimated that connection would reduce traffic on Worthington Way by 66 percent, residents on Hale Haven Drive question why they should bear the burden.

Michael Smith, a vice chairman of the task force, praised the recommendations as the only equitable solutions for the community.

"It balances and distributes traffic more evenly," Smith said. "We're not trying to impact just one neighborhood. We have been given a difficult task, and we did the best job we could."

But Jack Speicher, a task force member who lives on Hale Haven, said the group's purpose was not to spread the burden around.

"Our original intent was to find alternate access into Worthington for the school," Speicher said. "Until this problem came up, we were never a part of the Worthington community. And now that it's come up, we are?"

Some residents said they were disappointed the panel did not address other issues, such as speed bumps on Worthington Way and a traffic light at Worthington Way and Montgomery Road.

Jimmy Massey complained that the concerns of residents on New Cut Road were being drowned out by the debate between Hale Haven and Worthington residents.

"All the troubles from Worthington and Hale Haven are bestowed on us," said Massey, who has lived on New Cut Road about 10 years. "I don't think this is an improvement for us. This is going to give us traffic that we don't want and traffic that we don't need."

Pub Date: 11/07/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.