Engineers plan for roundabout on Rogers Ave.

Commuter traffic is worsening at Old Frederick Road

Public meeting tonight

Ellicott City

September 24, 2001|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

Howard County's traffic engineers realize that some drivers hate roundabouts with a vengeance, but they figure the circular device is preferable to the stop-sign gridlock at Old Frederick Road and Rogers Avenue.

They're planning to install one at the Ellicott City intersection, where Old Frederick Road ends in a tee at Rogers Avenue. Rogers Avenue drivers have the right of way. Stop signs halt drivers on Old Frederick Road and the church parking lot across the street.

William Malone, chief of the county's traffic engineering division, said that many of the commuters who use Old Frederick Road to get to or from Baltimore County are turning left - either onto the road or off it. He believes a roundabout is ideal for the situation.

"I would love to put it up. I really would," he said. "It's going to be safe. It's going to work much, much better than anything else we could do."

County officials are seeking public comment on the proposal. They're holding a meeting today at 7 p.m. at Crossroads Church of the Nazarene, 2750 Rogers Ave., across from Old Frederick Road.

Holly Lang, who lives in the nearby Hollifield Station subdivision, said she doesn't have a problem with the idea.

"Traffic stinks there right now," she said. "That's why I don't use the intersection."

Cal Saltzman, a Hollifield Station resident who drives on Old Frederick Road and Rogers Avenue on his way to work in Annapolis Junction, thinks a roundabout would be an improvement because it would force speeders on Rogers Avenue to slow down. But what the intersection really needs is a light, he said.

"The traffic is too heavy," he said. "Unfortunately, a circle can only handle so much traffic because U.S. people don't understand circles."

The Ellicott City project doesn't have a price tag yet, but Malone said it would probably cost about $100,000. Construction could start as early as next summer, he said.

His office doesn't track how many roundabouts are in Howard County anymore, he said, because the number is so high - he estimates it at 35 to 40. They're common in subdivisions, he said. Some ramps on Route 100 are connected by circles.

"We put them where we think they're going to work well, and in this case, we think they're going to work very well," he said of the Ellicott City project.

Malone knows that roundabouts are not universally loved. But some people hate traffic lights with an equal passion, he noted. "There is nothing we can do to please everyone," he said.

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