At a crossroads in Bel Air?

August 25, 2011

Of all the tempests in teapots in Harford County, the one swirling about at the intersection of Boulton Street and Gateway Drive in Bel Air is possibly the one that's easiest to solve, and least in need of being solved.

The problem with the intersection is Gateway Drive, a cul de sac that serves commercial and residential areas including English Country Manor and the Bel Air Post Office, doesn't have a traffic light where it meets Boulton Street, a main access road for Harford Mall.

From time to time, lines of a half dozen or so cars get backed up at the intersection on Gateway Drive, a problem that rises to the occasion of substantial inconvenience during the holiday shopping season.

In other words, most times of most days, it's not a problem, but when it is a problem, it can be a particularly unpleasant one.

The easy solution would have been to put a traffic light at the intersection and turn that intersection into the main Boulton Street access for Harford Mall. Unfortunately, many years ago, a traffic light was installed on Boulton Street at another mall access point and the main access point of the Mall Annex (Best Buy, et al, these days). Another traffic light a few yards away would probably make things worse.

There's probably a way to remove the existing light, replace it with one at Gateway and Boulton while still providing commercially viable access to the Mall Annex. Unfortunately, this would involve a lot of property owners and, probably, a lot of concessions all around.

That means the sticky situation that crops up from time to time at the intersection will probably continue to crop up, even as a new traffic camera is installed there as part of an effort to fix the situation (or maybe just to pacify the people who are upset by it).

In any event, moving the light and reconfiguring the mall and Mall Annex access points is something to be thinking about for the day when the properties off of Gateway Drive are built out and the problem becomes one that bursts out of its teapot.

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