Community Issues

Intersection of Mt Vista, Glen Arm, and Harford Road - the "Circle"

With the increased traffic on Harford Road, it has become very difficult to get through the stop signs on Mt Vista and Glen Arm Roads at rush hour. Although there have not been an excessive number of accidents, the State Highway Administration has considered ways to improve this intersection, including the installation of a four-way stop or traffic signals.

On March 3, 2008, a representative of State Highways stated that they were going ahead with the plans for a roundabout. It's pretty funny that he referred to the roundabouts in Essex and on Charles Street as examples of how successful and loved these roundabouts were. In fact, people in Essex hate theirs, and the one on Charles has already been ripped out because it did not work.

On March 19, 2014, a representative again spoke to a community organization and said that the project is back on, with funding in the order of $3,000,000 already committed. (See here for actual cost!) The plan they presented is pictured below. They heard very vocal opposition from numerous community members against this monstrosity.

Meanwhile, drivers continue to wait in a long line on Glen Arm Rd every evening. It's hard to understand why they have not simply installed a normal traffic signal. They claim it won't work, although the one a mile north in Fork has been dealing with the same traffic for years (although not very well). It's impossible to imagine how a circle can be built on the side of a hill! Surveyors have been sighted at the intersection, apparently scratching their heads.

The construction will result in the closing of Glen Arm and Mt Vista Roads, each for about 6 months. It is hard to imagine where traffic will be detoured!

My prediction is that the north- and south-bound traffic on Harford Rd (high-speed Harford County commuters) will not yield to the traffic already in the roundabout, especially south-bound where the "deflection" is not enough to slow drivers, leading to some serious crashes. Stay tuned!

See here for the original version of the plat (27 Feb 2015) of property to be acquired.

See here for the revised right-of-way plat (17 Sept 2015) which changed the area to be purchased from Michael McFall from 0.339 acres to 0.417 acres.

But note that on 11 Aug 2015, SHA purchased 1.772 acres from Kevin McFalls for $550,000 (and demolished the house built in 2002), even though the plat revised a month later still shows a plan to acquire only 0.417 acres of this property. The cost of this roundabout keeps increasing, and it seems that it is being done in an under-handed way, maybe to hide the real cost.

On March 29, 2016 Councilman Marks provided the following update:

The State Highway Administration anticipates awarding the contract and giving the contractor notice to proceed this spring. BGE will begin the relocation of overhead utilities in early April. The SHA contractor will then mobilize and begin construction activities while the utility relocation is ongoing.

The new roundabout will be constructed in several phases. Harford Road will remain open to traffic throughout construction; however, detours of Mt. Vista Road and Glen Arm Road are needed. In Phase 1, Mt. Vista Road will be closed and detoured to allow construction of the improvements on the east side of MD 147. Phase 1 will be constructed during the 2016 construction season.

When construction activity can resume in the spring of 2017, the State Highway Administration anticipates beginning Phase 2 of the project which involves reopening Mt. Vista Road, shifting Harford Road traffic onto the newly constructed roadway and then closing and detouring Glen Arm Road. Phase 2 includes construction of the improvements on the west side of Harford Road and is expected to be about four months duration.

When Phase 2 is complete, Glen Arm Road will be reopened. Mt. Vista Road will then be closed and detoured to allow for Phase 3 construction activities which include construction of the roundabout central island, median islands and curb and gutter. The duration of Phase 3 is expected to be about two months.

When Phase 3 activities are complete, Mt. Vista Road will be reopened. Phase 4 construction activities will then begin and include pavement grinding, final surfacing, and installation of permanent pavement markings and signing. The project also includes landscape planting which will be installed during the appropriate planting seasons.

The roundabout is expected to reduce the number of vehicular crashes, particularly angle crashes and rear-end crashes. The intersection currently has an overall Level of Service (LOS) rating of F in the morning and evening peak hour (according to the state). Construction of the roundabout is expected to improve the overall intersection LOS to a B rating in the morning and evening peak hours. The roundabout project includes installation of a closed drainage system and storm water management facility to improve roadway drainage conditions; overhead lighting; signing; pavement markings and landscaping.

See article in Aegis (Baltimore Sun) about start of work on October 5 with the ensuing detours which will further exacerbate traffic at the Kingsville triangle. (see below) It indicates that the detour closing Mt Vista Rd will extend through the Winter when it can be expected that no work is being done. And to further indicate the total waste going on here, the County just resurfaced all of Mt Vista Rd, including the final 600 ft or so that will now be ripped out during this construction!

The Detours

The state's plan is to first detour Mt Vista Rd traffic via Belair Rd, the terrible triangle with its "New Jersey Jug-handle", and Sunshine Ave, via the already bad intersection at Fork, as shown on the map to the left. I have added in red the actual detour that most local people, and anyone with a GPS, will take via Stoney Batter, mostly to avoid the triangle. Unfortunately, they will not avoid the intersection in Fork. The people living on Stoney Batter should be very concerned about this. This will be all through the winter when no work is usually done.

The second detour (of Glen Arm), with other possibilities, is shown on the right. (I suspect that many drivers are already taking these other small country roads to avoid the intersection. I have.

The Cost

This plan was supposedly selected (over simple traffic signals) because it would be less expensive in the long run (e.g., changing burnt-out lights). Earlier, $3,000,000 was quoted as the cost. The recent newspaper article stated that it is a $3.7 million project. Well, SHA's own document on the cost shows:

  • Planning - $0
  • Engineering - $1,785.000
  • Right-of-way - $1,259,000
  • Construction - $4,471,000
for a whopping $7.5 million! Interesting that no money was spent on "planning". And this does not include ongoing maintenance, which will be significant, since the plan also includes street lighting and landscaping.

Right-of-way acquisition:

  • From George Mink $14,500
  • From Kevin McFalls $550,000
  • From Redeemer Presbyterian $187,350
  • From Erina Puree $6,000
  • From Michael Bischoff $27,450
  • From Jeff Sevidal #1,100
  • From James Mengel $23,500
  • Easement from Ronald Mitcherling $1,500
  • Total: $811,000

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Updated 22 June 2017 by MAP