A roundabout solution

Intrepid Commuter

Intersection: Howard County road officials like the looks of a traffic circle, but a village board in Columbia favors a stoplight.

January 25, 1999

IF YOU THINK TRAFFIC roundabouts are only for major commercial intersections -- or lonely highway crossroads -- think again.

In Howard County, traffic officials are advocating one instead of a traffic light at a T-shaped intersection in residential Owen Brown village -- where Homespun Lane meets Cradlerock Way.

William F. Malone, acting county traffic engineering chief, says a small rotary at the Columbia intersection would be safer and prettier -- and therefore preferable -- to a traffic signal at a location that has drawn scores of complaints from village manager Ruth Bohse and other area residents in recent years.

Traffic counts show an average 500 vehicles per hour passing along U-shaped Cradlerock, a collector street linked to Broken Land Parkway. Nearby, 200 vehicles hum around Homespun, which links the area to nearby Oakland Mills Road and the big-box shopping areas farther east.

Bohse said the 35 residents at a village board meeting Tuesday expressed doubts about the suburban roundabout. The board took no vote, but informally supported the traffic light over the traffic circle, mainly because of fears about pedestrian safety.

County officials, though, roll on. Malone said last week he received no clear message from the meeting and favors a circle. "I like them in a residential community," he said, arguing that either choice would cost taxpayers about $60,000 to install.

"It's safer than a signal," he said of the roundabout, adding that some are skeptical because they just aren't used to the idea.

Stay tuned.

Rude drivers in Arundel cross solid line illegally

Watch out for road rudeness in Anne Arundel County as impatient drivers cross the solid white line trying to merge from westbound College Parkway onto northbound Ritchie Highway.

Such maneuvers are flirting with disaster -- while also breaking a little-known traffic law.

During rush hour, thousands of commuters en route to Severna Park, Pasadena, Glen Burnie or Baltimore whiz through the intersection just outside Anne Arundel Community College. These inconsiderate wheelsters cut off drivers who are trying to obey the law and stay in the merge lane until the solid white line ends.

Maryland's motor vehicle law states it is illegal to cross a solid line, says county police Sgt. Edward Bergin. "The line is a traffic control device," Bergin says. "So you cannot cross it until it ends.

Lunchtime strolls perilous in Hunt Valley

L unchtime in Hunt Valley isn't a pretty sight these days. That's when employees of the valley's business community are forced to race across traffic while in search of a midday repast at the mall across busy, six-lane Shawan Road.

The county installed walking signals months ago -- but did not activate them. A peek at the situation last week by Intrepid One showed the signals dark and covered with burlap.

"I hope the county will have the good sense to activate [the signals] it already spent the money to install before one of these people is mowed down attempting to cross the road," said Mark Martindale, one of Hunt Valley's artful dodgers.

Help might be on the way. Darrell Wiles, Baltimore County's chief traffic engineer, pledged on Friday to light the signals soon. Until then, keep your track shoes under that desk.

Public Works poised to spot red-light runners

Note to city drivers: Prepare to smile as you pass through certain Baltimore intersections -- particularly if you're running a red light.

Department of Public Works officials will soon unveil a list of locations where cameras are to be placed to catch fly-bys. All this will take place in the next several weeks, so plan now to start braking when you see the green turn to amber. Breezing through the red light is going to cost you.

Shortcuts

E ven though Gov. Parris N. Glendening shelved plans to construct bypasses around Carroll County's hubs of Manchester and Westminster, workers continue to expand Route 140 in the heart of the rural county to relieve congestion that includes 34,000 commuters daily and legendary two-hour, rush-hour crawls. Widening construction is expected to take about one year. Since the Motor Vehicle Administration opened online and telephone vehicle registration in November, officials are reporting much success. So far, 1,013 registrations have been renewed on MVA's toll-free hot line (888-834-7344), while 1,131 customers have logged on to the MVA Web site (mva.state.md.us) to cyber-renew. The process takes no more than 10 minutes and requires a major credit card.

Keep in touch

You can mail, send by fax or call in questions or comments for the Intrepid Commuter. Here's how:

Mail letters -- The Sun, 109 Allegheny Ave., Towson 21204.

E-mail: Intrepid@Baltsun.com.

Call Sundial, The Baltimore Sun's telephone information service. 410-783-1800, enter Ext. 4305. From Anne Arundel County, dial 410-268-7736.

Pub Date: 1/25/99

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