OCEAN PINES – Dozens of residents attended a meeting hosted by state officials last week to voice their concerns about a roundabout proposed for Route 589.
Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) officials were greeted with comments and concerns from many Ocean Pines residents last Thursday as they hosted a meeting regarding the roundabout proposed for the intersection of Ocean Parkway and Route 589 at the north gate of the community.
“We have a lot of statistics that support the idea of a roundabout but I also want to say we’re not here to ram anything down anybody’s throat,” said SHA District Engineer Jay Meredith. “We believe that it’s a good solution for a congestion problem and that’s why we’re offering it up.”
Meredith and several other SHA representatives answered questions and set up displays of the proposed roundabout at an informal meeting at the Ocean Pines Community Center last Thursday. Residents hovered around Meredith, most waiting for the chance to express their frustration with the proposal. Resident Ginger Sutula felt strongly enough about the roundabout to start a petition asking SHA to hold a formal hearing on the issue. She indicated she thought the informal walk-through setting of Thursday’s meeting was intentional.
“This is a divide and conquer thing. If they had a formal hearing they’d have a bunch of angry people sitting here,” she said, adding that many residents had signed the petition and didn’t want to see a roundabout at the north gate.
Sutula said one of the only places a roundabout was effective was at an intersection that already had a four-way stop.
“This is a thoroughfare, Route 589,” she said. “This is crazy… People do not want this. if you’ve lived in New Jersey, you don’t want this.”
Meredith said he simply wanted people to keep an open mind. He said that roundabouts were typically a cause for objection until they were built.
“Just about every place that we put a roundabout you have people that are scared to death and they don’t want it,” he said. “I’ve been in this business 42 years. Every case that I know of personally people have always come back and said ‘I was wrong.’”
He said that while roundabouts were installed in some places to address safety concerns, the one being discussed for Route 589 was intended to improve mobility and address traffic congestion. Officials are eager to get resident input.
“We’re not here to tell people we’re building a roundabout,” Meredith said. “That’s not our purpose. We’re here to present an idea, a solution to a problem we feel exists on 589. That’s what we’re here for. We’re just here to throw it out and try to get some input.”
He added that SHA put more emphasis on projects that related to safety issues than it did projects that addressed mobility and congestion.
“If we get a lot of negative feedback, which it appears that we are, we’re going to go back and look at it and say ‘hey do we have to do this now? Can it wait until 20 years when 589 is dualized?’” Meredith said.