Roundabout to be built at intersection in Essex

Temporary measure at Route 702, Hyde Park Road to be done in Oct.

Metro

News from around the Baltimore region

September 09, 2005|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

Despite criticism from some eastern Baltimore County residents, state officials will begin Monday to install a temporary roundabout at a troublesome highway intersection in Essex.

The traffic-control measure at Route 702 and Hyde Park Road will be completed by Oct. 1, State Highway Administration officials said in an open letter distributed to state and county officials and to about 120 area residents.

A highway agency spokeswoman said yesterday that the temporary roundabout will cost between $400,000 and $500,000.

Once opened, the roundabout will be studied for six months. If approved by first responders, state and public officials and citizens, a permanent, $2 million fixture will be built.

Other roundabouts built in Maryland since 1995 have shown a drastic reduction in fatal and serious collisions, state figures show. The traffic-calming devices force drivers to stop or significantly reduce speed and yield to vehicles traveling through the circle on their left.

There were 27 reported crashes at Route 702 and Hyde Park Road between 2000 and 2004, most of them right-angle collisions, statistics show. Fifteen resulted in injuries. Recently, two pedestrians were struck there, and one of them died.

The temporary roundabout in Essex will not have concrete curbs, islands or landscaping.

Highway agency officials said they will also distribute brochures to residents and commuters about how to navigate the roundabout.

The new traffic-control measure will replace four-way stop signs, a stop-gap measure that many complained was awkward because Hyde Park Road, a two-lane road, intersects with the high-speed highway.

One area community leader seemed resigned to the state's decision.

"I can take it or leave it," said Jack Nickel of Turkey Point. "Some people like it, some don't, but I know elderly drivers who are afraid of it. They have already switched to Back River Neck Road instead of going on 702."

At a spirited public meeting last month, a handful of residents said they opposed the roundabout, preferring a traffic signal instead. Several public officials, including Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr., also indicated they favored a stoplight.

Traffic engineers, locally and nationally, have supported roundabouts to decrease vehicle collisions at intersections.

Where 41 roundabouts have been installed around Maryland over the past decade, there has been a 68 percent reduction in crashes and an 86 percent decrease in injuries, and there have been no fatalities, state figures show.

Police reports between 2000 and 2004 cited by the highway agency show that at four other intersections along Route 702, between Old Eastern Avenue and Hyde Park Road, there have been 123 collisions, with 78 people injured and one killed.

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