Construction on Towson circle starts tonight

June 16, 2008|By Kevin Rector | Kevin Rector,Sun reporter

The long-planned transformation of downtown Towson into a more pedestrian-friendly retail and restaurant hub is to begin tonight with modifications to the traffic patterns at the roundabout and on York Road between the circle and Towsontown Boulevard, the State Highway Administration said.

The modifications will expand the roundabout's oval-shaped island, reduce part of the circle to a single lane and eliminate some entrances and exits. The changes are intended to reduce speed, give drivers clearer direction and make the roundabout safer for pedestrians, officials said.

One lane on each side of the three blocks of York Road between the roundabout and Towsontown Boulevard will be converted into parking spaces that officials say they hope will draw more customers to the businesses there and provide a buffer between fast-moving traffic and sidewalks.

According to Frances Ward, the SHA's community liaison for the area, most of the changes will be completed tonight, but crews could be in the area until Wednesday.

"Tuesday morning - weather permitting - the traffic patterns will be set," she said.

The modifications are listed as short-term recommendations in the "Walkable Towson Plan," which has been in the works since January 2006 and includes more extensive construction and redevelopment ideas for the area.

"This is the beginning of the implementation process of Walkable Towson," said Jay Doyle, community revitalization specialist for the county's Office of Community Conservation. The plan is the product of cooperation between the nonprofit organization Tomorrow's Towson, the state highway administration and several county agencies.

The modifications are part of a larger plan to encourage drivers who are merely passing through the area to bypass downtown using Burke, Bosley and Fairmont avenues.

kevin rector@baltsun.com

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