Plans for another roundabout, this one in western Ellicott City, spark displeasure


April 22, 2003|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I KNEW that all you fans of roundabouts would be thrilled to learn that Howard County is about to have a new one, so it wasn't a surprise that I heard from a few of you about the roundabout the county will install this summer for the intersection of Folly Quarter Road, Sheppard Lane and Homewood Road in the western area of Ellicott City.

Charley McCullough's was the first and most printable of the e-mail messages I received. "So the county is going to add another roundabout. That's wonderful. Yet another place where Howard County drivers can become hopelessly confused; yet another opportunity for them to stop unnecessarily, wander across lanes aimlessly and exit whimsically. I know that the county highway department cannot be held responsible for educating our resolutely provincial motorists, but could the engineers at least mark these circles to give people some vague idea of how to use them?" he asks. He suggests a sign indicating "Inside lane continues on; outside lane exits."

Part of the problem is that some two-lane-wide circles are marked for two lanes, such as the ones at Route 212 and U.S. 29. others, such as the circle at the junction of Route 100, Route 104, and Route 108, are not.

From roundabouts to standard intersections, there is no lack of complaints about our local roads. Brad Closs offers his vote for one of the worst intersections: that of Broken Land Parkway, Snowden River Parkway and Route 32.

"The things that happen in this area are truly amazing," he said. "The favorite maneuver is to turn left from Snowden River to Broken Land from the left lane and then race everyone in the right lane to get to the exit for westbound 32. I have seen many vehicles finally make it over well after the white `cross-hatch' lines between Broken Land and the ramp to 32. Of course, one who has turned from the right lane has to be alert to being cut off once on the ramp. Since I used to commute through that area daily, I learned which cars (I even have remembered one vanity license number of a consistent offender) that I could count on to cut everyone off. The amazing thing is that the people who do this appear to think it's their right to cut everyone else off who is waiting patiently in the right lane."

Mr. Closs is also concerned about another part of this intersection: northbound Broken Land. "Many cars coming into this area need to turn right onto Snowden River. There is a steady flow from east and westbound 32 exits as well as Broken Land itself. Those on Broken Land who will be turning right onto Snowden River often wait until the last minute to enter the right lane - so they don't have to get behind the traffic exiting eastbound 32. Those exiting westbound 32 may need to get out onto Broken Land, or they may need to get across all the lanes of traffic to turn left into the industrial park," he said.

John G. Gruver has some comments about roads in Clarksville. The first of his concerns is about Route 108 northbound, where it crosses Route 32. "The left-turn lane onto 32 west never gets a left-turn arrow, although it is set up for it," he said. "Far worse, 108 northbound merges down to one lane just north of 32, as you go by the new firehouse at Clarksville - no warning, after a right-turn-only lane, by the Mobil gas station. There should be a right-turn lane for the River Hill Village Center. Whoever designed this was a nut!"

His second concern focuses on Cedar Lane southbound at Route 32. "The second light where 32 eastbounders turn left to go north on Cedar, the light hangs red at all stations for no reason for a bit," he said.

Traffic light study

One reader recently asked how to request a study for a traffic light, a question others may also have. Contact JoAnn Maxfield, customer service for Howard County Department of Public Works, 410-313-3440, or William Malone, traffic division chief, Howard Count Department of Public Works, 410-313-2430.

Local road work

Work continues this week on U.S. 1 northbound at Guilford Road, so be prepared to deal with lane closures. Lanes will also be closed for construction on Route 216 eastbound from All Saints Road to Interstate 95.

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

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