It’s not quite a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, but the State Highway Administration’s proposal to build a roundabout between Ocean Parkway and Route 589 at the North Gate comes close.
As well-intentioned as demands for a formal hearing on this proposal might be, no state requirement exists for anything beyond an informational session on a suggested project such as this one.
The SHA’s authority in this instance can be aggravating or even infuriating to residents, given that highway engineers and planners won’t be the ones using whatever it is they create to ease the traffic confusion at this congested intersection. That, however, assumes they create anything.
Doing nothing is the other option, apparently, and chances are that won’t make many people happy either. Besides, alternatives to the roundabout probably would be more complicated — think additional traffic signals — and much more expensive, when the state has no desire to spend more than is necessary to ease the traffic conflict between medical facility clients trying to enter Ocean Parkway and residents using it to get to Route 589.
As it turns out, Maryland is a big believer in roundabouts. It was the first state in the country to adopt a statewide roundabout program by drawing on designs used in Great Britain, and created its first one in 1993.
Since that time, the state has built more than a hundred of them in both rural and densely populated areas, which is why it’s unlikely that SHA engineers could be convinced that Ocean Pines involves some sort of special circumstance that requires a different kind of solution. This doesn’t mean residents and property owners can’t be annoyed, or that they shouldn’t be concerned about the increasing flow of traffic at the North Gate outlet.
It’s just that the SHA has presented what officials believe is the best option and residents can accept it or not.