After many fits and starts, the much discussed – and much anticipated – traffic signals at Gateway Drive and Boulton Street in Bel Air have been installed and are waiting to go live.
"Currently, the electrical power feed and meter to the signal will be installed on April 9, weather permitting," town Public Works Director Randy Robertson said via e-mail Tuesday. "The control cabinet is still in the design/fabrication stage. We hope it will be completed and delivered on-site by mid-April."
"The signal heads and cameras are installed and control wiring to the signal at Best Buy (for timing coordination) has been installed," Robertson continued. "Once the control cabinet has been installed the timing can be programmed."
He said the signal "will first go on blink for a day or two just to get travelers aware of its presence and then it can be fully activated – hopefully by the end of April or early May."
The signals were installed last week under an $85,000 contract approved earlier this year by the Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners.
When the signals are operational, they should make residents of the English Country Manor and Legacy at Gateway communities happy, as well as people traveling to the Bel Air Post Office and businesses along Gateway Drive north of Boulton Street and the Bel Air Athletic Club on the corner.
For several years, residents of the older English Country Manor community asked town officials to consider installing signals at the intersection, which is also across from one of the entrances to Harford Mall and is controlled by stop signs at Gateway and the mall only. Traffic using Boulton Street between Tollgate Road and Route 24 made it difficult – and dangerous – for motorists traveling on Gateway to turn left on Boulton, those in favor of the signals argued.
Town officials were initially reluctant to approve signals at that location, however, noting that with signals already at Tollgate, the entrance to the mall annex and Route 24, adding another signal so close to Tollgate and the annex entrance might cause traffic backups.
Cost was also a consideration initially, but after performing traffic study, paid for by the developer of Legacy at Gateway, and installing a camera system to time the existing lights, a decision was made last spring to put $150,000 into the 2012-13 to cover installation of signals and related costs.
Robertson said the town was able to save money on the project by piggybacking on an existing Baltimore County signal installation contract. "We expect to complete the project for about $90,000; there was additional cost to BGE for the electrical power installation, about $5,000," he wrote.