Rotary OK'd for office park Traffic circles part of state strategy to ease congestion


A developer who hopes to build a 70-acre office park in Severn wants to give motorists on Quarterfield Road the runaround.

Osprey Property Group has received tentative approval from the State Highway Administration to build a traffic circle, or "roundabout," on Quarterfield Road and just west of Interstate 97.

The circle -- at least two years from completion -- would provide motorists with access to Osprey's proposed office park on the north side of Quarterfield Road and the ramps to and from southbound I-97.

Roundabouts are among the latest strategies used by the SHA to ease traffic congestion and accidents at nettlesome intersections. The state is expected to open a temporary roundabout today at the intersection of routes 2, 408 and 422 in Lothian.

Other roundabouts have been or are being built in Howard, Washington and Cecil counties. The SHA also is planning a roundabout on the northern edge of the Towson business district.

More compact than traffic circles typically found in Washington, D.C., roundabouts force motorists to travel at slower speeds and conserve fuel, SHA officials say. Roundabouts can reduce accidents by up to 70 percent, officials said.

Some Queenstown Road residents fear the traffic generated by the Osprey office park and the roundabout will make the entrance onto Quarterfield Road more difficult.

Other Severn residents worry about potential hazards if commercial properties on the south side of Quarterfield Road are developed near the mouth of the proposed circle.

Michael Shylandski, president of the Greater Severn Improvement Association, said the circle could work if the developer or the county permanently set aside those properties as open space.

"We've got some heartburn about what would happen in the immediate vicinity of the roundabout," said Mr. Shylandski, whose umbrella group represents about eight neighborhoods. "I'm skeptical this can be done if a commercial business is built on that [south side] property."

Officials with Osprey could not be reached for comment. However, they are expected to meet with Severn residents next month, Mr. Shylandski said.

County Councilman James E. "Ed" DeGrange, a Glen Burnie Democrat, had arranged for civic leaders to tour the Lothian roundabout yesterday. But SHA spokesman Chuck Brown said the trip was canceled because construction of a permanent roundabout is not complete.

The roundabout is scheduled to open today using barrels and other temporary lane markers, he said.

Osprey needs a state roads permit to open the office park's driveway onto Quarterfield Road, Mr. Brown said. "We're still in the early stages but we have given them the OK to proceed with the design," he said. SHA engineers also have to approve the design before the circle can be constructed, he said.

The alternative, installing a traffic signal, would have required the developer or the state to widen Quarterfield Road and the I-97 overpass. A roundabout "is the superior way to provide access," Mr. Brown said.

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