Construction of a mini-traffic circle began Monday at 39th Street and Canterbury Road in Tuscany-Canterbury, and is already affecting one local restaurant in a roundabout way.
Dino Zeytinoglu, owner of La Famiglia, an Italian restaurant in the Broadview Apartments near the circle site, said he had a party of 106 people coming for dinner Monday night and was worried that they would have difficulty getting to the restaurant, especially on a rainy day, because West 39th Street was closed westbound starting on Monday.
"What am I going to do with these people?" Zeytinoglu asked. "How are they going to get in?"
He said he warned the organizer of the dinner party to drive north on University Parkway and turn right onto eastbound 39th Street.
Baltimore City transportation officials say the circle will take about four weeks to construct, weather permitting, and is designed to reduce speeding in the area.
"It's a traffic-calming tool, but it's something the community has asked for," said Adrienne Barnes, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Transportation.
However, Zeytinoglu panned the project as unnecessary, bad for business and possibly dangerous.
"I don't think it's going to be effective," he said. "The speeding is going to continue. You're just wasting taxpayer money."
He also asked, "Why do you need a circle here? There's not major traffic. I don't get it."
He worried that if business slows down during the project, his wait staff could decide to leave if they don't make enough money because of a lack of customers.
"This is ridiculous," he said.
Residents of Tuscany-Canterbury and Guilford have been divided about the merits of the $100,000 project.
The so-called mountable mini-roundabout would be built low to the ground and would be designed to withstand a vehicle running over it, transportation officials said at a community meeting in July 2012. They said it would improve traffic and pedestrian safety, as well as traffic flow, at Canterbury and 39th. But although the Tuscany-Canterbury Neighborhood Association voted in favor of the roundabout after a 2-year debate, some residents sought speed bumps instead along West 39th Street in both directions. They said a traffic circle, or roundabout, would be little more than "a circular speed bump," too dangerous for trucks, too costly for taxpayers and too small to slow traffic.
They said it would be better to have speed bumps along West 39th between University Parkway and Canterbury Road, especially in the area of the Broadview Apartments, as well as speed cameras in the area. They also said they wanted the traffic light at 39th and North Charles Street retimed.
Longtime City Councilwoman and Tuscany-Canterbury resident Mary Pat Clarke, who convened the meeting at First English Lutheran Church, said at the time that the speed limit is 25 miles per hour on West 39th, but "It's become a speedway."
A car struck a resident there in 2010, she said at the time.
Clarke said Monday that transportation officials have done a lot of work on the traffic signals at 39th and Charles, but still have not done some of the things residents really wanted more than a traffic circle, such as speed bumps on 39th and 4-way stop signs and more traffic signals at the intersection of 39th and Canterbury.
"The circle was the city's idea," she said.
The Tuscany-Canterbury Neighborhood Association's traffic committee was scheduled to meet Wednesday, June 12, to revisit some of the community's suggestions that city officials have yet to act on, Clarke said.
Zeytinoglu is resigned to the mini-traffic circle, whether he likes it or not.
"It is what it is," he said.