Thursday, September 08, 2005

Traffic troubles

So how about that dangerous intersection...

If you live in Howard County, you probably know the intersection in question; it's the southernmost along Route 29 at Old Columbia Road (and the one that provides access to the wonderfully kitsch Rocky Gorge mini golf course). Never was it particularly easy to navigate, but over the last few years, things seems to have gotten worse, due in large part to new development in the area.

"The road's design problems have become more glaring as traffic volume has increased, residents say. Old Columbia Road is now home to nearly 600 houses near the intersection."
I don't wish to blame the local residents--I'm all for their efforts to improve the intersection, especially if it makes it easier for me to get to mini golf. What I'm wondering is how new houses could be approved in the area--many of the 600 homes were built in the last five years--seemingly without consideration given to the horrible intersection? I know projects are approved only if sufficient infrastructure is in place, and I'm sure this intersection was somehow deemed "adequate" by planners.

But why? Because "on paper" it can handle the additional traffic? Do local planners and government officials ever physically look
at the projects they review? If they had in this case, surely they would know that the sight-lines have always been horrible, the acceleration lane too short, and the flow of traffic too fast--on top of the ever-present threat of errant golf balls from the driving range.

Well, maybe they did look at the intersection. Maybe they knew it was a problem. Maybe they have a plan to fix it and accommodate for additional traffic flow.
"State Highway Administration officials say they can't begin construction of an overpass until the county places such a project on its priority list and the project is included in the state's budget, a process that normally takes years."
Maybe not.

All things considered, this obviously isn't the biggest issue we face as a county. But, I think it is indicative of how well we plan our community and how well we accommodate for growth. Which is to say, not very well.

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