About a dozen Tuscany-Canterbury residents, including their city councilwoman, gathered Wednesday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the neighborhood's new traffic circle, which they hope will make the intersection of 39th Street and Canterbury safer.
"It's kind of a non-threatening place, but it's busy," said 14th District Councilwoman and longtime resident Mary Pat Clarke.
Clarke was relieved when the circle, a hotly debated traffic-calming device, opened last month.
"This is the first time since I moved here in 1967 that I pull into this intersection from Canterbury (Road) without closing my eyes and hoping for the best," she said,
As cars navigated the mountable mini-roundabout at varying speeds, residents tied yellow ribbon between a street sign for Canterbury Road and a street lamp with a "Yield" sign attached to it. Clarke and resident Tina Trapane, a supporter of the controversial roundabout, did the honors in cutting the ribbon.
Guests at the ceremony included Baltimore City Deputy Transportation Director Frank Murphy, Northwest Transportation Liaison Kohl Fannin and Johns Hopkins University Director of Community Affairs Jennifer Mielke.
Murphy, who grew up in Towson, remembered passing through the neighborhood in a carpool of children on their way to school in the area.
Murphy worked with community leaders for several years on plans for the roundabout.
"We hope you like it," he said at the ceremony.
Not everyone does. Some say it's aesthetically pleasing and effective at slowing traffic, but others question whether it will stop speeders and say it's unnecessary in a residential neighborhood near University Parkway. Many of the area's residents, including Clarke, fought for years for other traffic-calming measures, such as speed bumps and re-timed traffic lights.
But those assembled for the ceremony were excited.
"It's a new beginning," said Trapane, who had urged residents at a community meeting last year to give the roundabout a chance. She said she wants the neighborhood to be safe and "this is a step in that direction."
"Do you want to say anything?" Clarke asked resident Jackie MacMillan, who chairs the traffic committee of the Tuscany-Canterbury Neighborhood Association.
"Besides thank God?' MacMillan said.
Resident Tom Forno gave a brief history of traffic-calming efforts in the neighborhood, starting with a sidewalk extension on the northwest corner of the intersection in the 1990s.
""Hopefully, this is the last iteration we'll have to do in this neighborhood," Forno said.
.Several passersby said they liked the circle well enough, although Hopkins graduate student Brian Jenner, 23, who moved to Tuscany-Canterbury last year, said he would like to see a garden plot or a fountain in the middle of the circle.
"It's a little austere," he said.
A woman walking her dog pointed out — quite rightly, said Murphy — that a "Crosswalk" sign on westbound 39th Street, just before the roundabout, was largely hidden from view by a large tree.
Murphy said after the ceremony that the circle in Tuscany-Canterbury is something of a pilot, as transportation officials study other possible locations for roundabouts in the city, possibly including at the four-way intersection of 33rd Street, Barclay Street, University Parkway and Merrymans Lane, near the Saturday farmers' market in Waverly. There are also a series of roundabouts along Guilford Avenue in Abell, he said.
Clarke said she thinks the traffic circle will make life easier for parents driving their children to Calvert School in the fall — and certainly the neighbors."