Traffic light funding sought again for intersection near Harford Mall

After asking for a traffic light for years, residents of Bel Air's English Country Manor community near Harford Mall may finally be getting a solution to what they believe is a dangerous intersection.

Residents of English Country Manor, and other developments off Gateway Drive, have to use the intersection at Boulton Street and Gateway Drive, which does not have a traffic light, to get in and out of their communities. There are a number of businesses along Gateway, as well, including the Bel Air Post Office.

Last year, the town of Bel Air installed a camera that detects back-ups on Gateway Drive and then regulates the nearby signals on Boulton Street at Best Buy and at Tollgate Road.

In the past, however, town officials were reluctant to commit to installing a traffic light at Gateway, citing both the cost and the proximity to two other signals along Boulton Street.

For John Meeks, a resident of English Country Manor, the effort with the camera was not enough.

Meeks has regularly attended Bel Air town meetings to urge the town commissioner to make a traffic light a priority.

He may finally get his wish.

In the recently introduced and proposed fiscal year 2013 budget, the town could be allocating $150,000 to install a traffic signal at Boulton and Gateway.

Especially with a new condominium development, called Legacy at Gateway, being built off Gateway Drive, Town Administrator Chris Schlehr says it's the right the right time to install the traffic signal.

"The community there has been asking about it and has been behind it for a number of years, and I think obviously we see that there's a need for it," Schlehr said Thursday.

The budget proposal is Schlehr's. It must still be approved by the five-member Board of Town Commissioners in the coming weeks. The board and Schlehr haven't always seen eye-to-eye on the need for the traffic signal.

It is still too early to tell a timeline for the project, but Schlehr noted the design for the light is already completed. If the project is approved in the budget, he added, the town will start to line up construction.

At this early stage, Meeks said he and other people have discussed the light at the English Country Manor Board of Directors meetings and everyone is "looking forward to it."

"We're very pleased that the traffic light has been funded again for this budget year," he said Wednesday, "and we're looking forward to a much safer intersection."

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