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New traffic signal adds to commuter woes on busy Catonsville road

Johns Hopkins University

The traffic signal on South Rolling Road at the Park and Ride lot that became operational Jan. 18 has been causing problems for area commuters.

The light, located a short distance from another signal at the Wilkens Avenue intersection, was installed last month as a way to allow traffic coming out of the Park and Ride to turn left onto busy South Rolling Road.

According to Catonsville resident Leslie Lawrence, a regular commuter, drivers are using the light to go the other direction as well.

She said drivers are turning right at the light in an attempt to avoid the traffic that usually backs up on the merge ramp from the I-195 access road to head into Catonsville on South Rolling Road.

"People go up through the parking lot and go up to the light and turn right," Lawrence said. "And that just backs it up more."

Lawrence said her afternoon commute from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore City usually takes under 15 minutes.

Her drive home now takes up to 30 minutes, she said, an increase she blames on the traffic backing up on the access road to South Rolling Road..

"If I'm not on 195 before 5:11 (p.m.), I will not get home until 5:45," Lawrence said.

Though there are multiple possible routes for her to take home, the one that brings her to the intersection of the I-195 access road and South Rolling Road is the shortest and, previously, the fastest.

"That is the one way I can do it in maybe 10 to 12 minutes," Lawrence said.

David Buck, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration and lives in the Catonsville area and has seen the problems to which Lawrence referred.

He said he often is at the intersection of South Rolling Road and the I-195 access road during his commute home.

"I don't see nearly as many people cutting through," Buck said. 'But what they're doing instead, and I've never seen any benefit in doing this...but what I think people are now doing instead of staying to the right, they're now going to the signal and making a right."

Buck said that, before the light was in place, commuters would cut through the Park and Ride parking lot to make a right onto South Rolling instead of waiting to merge. Now, it seems motorists are utilizing the light to make that turn with traffic stopped on South Rolling.

Buck said he understands how irritating this might be for other motorists but that ultimately, the light is achieving its goal: making left turns safer for traffic coming out of the Park and Ride.

"It's functioning as intended. It's doing what it's intended to do," Buck said. "The bottom line is that it's much safer for those people coming out of the Park and Ride and making a left."

Lawrence however, thinks there should be adjustments made to correct the new issues.

"They should have put a sign up there that said, 'No Turn on Red,'" she said.

Buck said he doesn't see any sort of change that would make the situation better. He pointed out that with any sort of change in traffic patterns, there is always a period of adjustment for commuters.

"I don't care if it's a new roundabout, or a new traffic signal, or a new stop sign, or a new anything, there's always some type of adjustment," Buck said. "And the more significant it is, the longer the adjustment."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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