Resident feels left out on roundabout


April 02, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WESTERN HOWARD County is growing by leaps and bounds. This growth overburdens local roads, which used to be lazy drives between farms and local villages. All of a sudden, an intersection, such as the one where Triadelphia and Ten Oaks roads meet, becomes a major concern.

Howard County resident Randall Bradford writes that where he lives, "the county decided to put a traffic roundabout at the intersection of Ten Oaks and Triadelphia. There was a meeting at the county complex one evening sometime back and about 25 people attended. The county was soliciting opinions about how the locals felt about the proposal. There was only one person that supported the idea at that time."

Ever hopeful, Bradford says, "The rest of us thought it would die off. How wrong we were."

In the next month or two, local residents received letters from the county stating that it was proceeding with a temporary roundabout to see how it would be received. The letter stated that after a trial period for residents to become accustomed to the roundabout, the county would again solicit opinions about it.

"We all thought that we would have some say as to the permanent installation," Bradford recalls.

"Lo and behold, the roundabout was recently made permanent without any contact from the county, as they had previously stated they would. Just rammed it right down our throats. A total waste of our tax money," he says.

According to Bradford, "They pulled the wool over our eyes when they went ahead with the project without our input. Plainly put, we were lied to. They knew [ahead of time] they were going to complete this project." Bradford calls that first meeting "merely window dressing."

Liz Calia, chief of the Division of Transportation and Special Projects of the Howard County Bureau of Engineering, says, "We have worked very diligently to consider the community's needs, as well as the engineering safety aspects that, as traffic/transportation engineers, is our expertise." Calia says citizens' concerns are always carefully considered. "We may not be able to satisfy every citizen's desires in the democratic process. Although Mr. Bradford does not agree with our decision, the drop in reported accidents speaks for the installation's success."

According to JoAnn Maxfield, Department of Public Works' customer service representative, residents received a letter in July and August last year seeking their opinions about the temporary roundabout.

"Initially the community had very mixed emotions about the roundabout, so the county decided to construct a temporary roundabout and requested feedback from the community," Maxfield says. "We received 45 comments back via phone, e-mail and mail regarding the temporary roundabout. Thirty-seven of the 45 comments gave positive feedback regarding the roundabout. After the largely positive response, we decided to proceed with the permanent roundabout."

According to Maxfield, the county altered the way it usually proceeds because of residents' initial concerns. "This process was somewhat different because we do not normally put in a temporary structure," she says.

And there was a need for improved safety at that intersection. According to Maxfield, the county wanted to install a roundabout there to reduce "angle accidents." She points out that six accidents occurred in 1999, four accidents in 2000, and before the installation of the temporary roundabout in 2001, three angle accidents. After the temporary roundabout was installed June 2001, there were no reported accidents, as of mid-November 2001.

Have you seen the signs?

You might have missed them, but shame on you for speeding so fast on Route 108, Snowden River Parkway or other major Howard County thoroughfares. Or you might have seen these little red, white and blue signs and wondered about them. Here's the scoop behind some signs that have popped up along our Howard County roads. These signs recognize Howard County as an "All-American County," because, it seems, "We are a microcosm of America," according to County Executive James N. Robey.

The road signs depict the red, white and blue "All-American County" logo along with the slogan "Community Excellence ... Civic Pride."

"This award belongs to all of Howard County and these signs will serve as a reminder that this is a community that cares and a community that acts," Robey says. "At this critical time in our nation's history, it is important that we take pride in those civic values that are reflective of the stability and strength that we as a nation value now more than ever."

What's your driving dilemma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison Technophobes can mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 300, Columbia 21044, or fax 410-715-2816.

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