Wal-Mart opening day in question Key is traffic signal that isn't yet operating


The County Commissioners are expected to decide tomorrow whether to allow Wal-Mart to open as scheduled in Eldersburg, even if a traffic signal on Liberty Road is not working.

The commissioners, planning officials and others met with Wal-Mart representatives yesterday to discuss the signal, which has been installed but is not expected to be in operation until Feb. 17, three days before the store's planned opening.

Wal-Mart officials want the commissioners to allow them to open the 103,500-square-foot store whether or not the signal is working. They are planning publicity and grand-opening events.

The commissioners held up construction at the site last spring until Wal-Mart officials agreed to install a traffic signal. The commissioners, responding to concerns of Eldersburg residents, said they wanted to ensure traffic safety at the congested intersection.

If the signal is not working on the day of the planned opening, Wal-Mart officials plan to place traffic barricades in turning lanes to help control traffic coming out of the shopping plaza.

South Carroll residents urged the commissioners yesterday to delay the store's opening until the traffic signal is operating.

"It's still going to be a traffic nightmare," said Dan Hughes, a member of Solutions for a Better South Carroll. "Why not make them wait and make it safe?"

Phil Rovang, the county's director of planning and development, recommended that the commissioners approve the opening only orange-colored barrels with flashing lights are placed at the store entrance and in the center lane of Route 26 and if a traffic control person is hired to direct traffic during busy times.

"We want to ensure we don't have inappropriate turns across traffic," Mr. Rovang said. "We're very concerned about the concerns we've heard from residents in South Carroll."

The commissioners are waiting for a recommendation from the South Carroll Business Association before making a decision.

"We want to hear from the business people. The business people will be more impacted than anyone else," Commissioner Richard T. Yates said.

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