For Jefferson residents, the question of adding a roundabout on Md. 180 is not a question of if, but how.

The project to create the roundabout at Md. 180 and Mount Zion Road is still in the design phase, with plans to begin construction in the summer of 2019.

State transportation officials say the roundabout is needed to reduce the number of serious crashes at the intersection.

State Highway Administration staff met with residents Thursday night at the Jefferson Ruritan Center to discuss the project and address the community’s questions and concerns.

The state has been looking at Md. 180 and Mount Zion Road for several years, said District 7 Engineer John Concannon.

It has changed marking, signage and lighting, but still continues to see crashes at the intersection, he said.

The project will require closing the intersection for eight weeks in the summer of 2019, which will be scheduled for when school is out of session.

Crash data showed 10 crashes at the intersection between 2012 and 2016, all of which were so-called angle crashes, which tend to cause more serious injuries than sideswipes or rear-end crashes, said SHA Project Manager April Stitt.

Studies have shown that roundabouts dramatically reduce several crash statistics, including a 68 percent reduction in the total crash rate, a 99 percent reduction in the fatal crash rate, an 86 percent drop in injury crashes, and a 40 percent drop in property damage crashes, she said.

Adding a roundabout is expected to cost about $5 million, while installing a traffic light would cost about $2.5 million to $3 million, Stitt said.

But adding a traffic signal would require putting in new poles and bases, and other work, she said.

“It’s not as straightforward as just putting a new signal in,” she said.

Jefferson resident John Powell questioned whether closing the intersection and diverting traffic to other roads for as long as the project would require was worth it for the number of crashes that SHA cited.

“It doesn’t justify it,” Powell said after the meeting.

Concannon said that the 10 crashes were only the ones that SHA knew about and that had been reported to police, and didn’t count more minor crashes.

Other concerns at the meeting included whether various detours would be safe alternatives with the increased traffic, whether the cost of a roundabout was worth the extra cost compared with a traffic signal, and drivers’ experiences and frustrations with roundabouts.

Eric Arnold, of Jefferson, said he “sort of” supported the project.

The increase in traffic between Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and Frederick, and what traffic will be like in 10 or 15 years, probably makes the project necessary, he said.

Meanwhile, Brenda Lucas, of Jefferson, questioned whether the roundabout was really required.

“I just don’t see the need for it. I think a stoplight would work just fine,” she said.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP.

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(18) comments

nigelbridget

I have used this intersection several times daily since moving to Braddock Heights in 2016 & have seen two severe accidents in that time. I was almost taken out on December 31st, 2018 by a speeding driver on Mt. Zion who was heading towards the mountain. I don't think she had any intention of stopping & had I not come to a full stop in the middle of the intersection, I would have been hit. She had already looked to her left as she sped towards the intersection & was looking right as she crossed the stop line. Fortunately, I anticipated a possible collision & slowed significantly, allowing time to come to a stop & laid on the horn. She then looked miffed and waved her arms to tell me to go. This traffic circle cannot come soon enough.

elmerchismo1

Consider the new development in Jefferson and the increase in traffic that will follow. And consider that that development won't be the end of local population increases. A roundabout makes sense as a traffic-calming measure. I too deplore the cost of public works: it seems like they're working out of the same "book" that car dealers use for repair costs. But to get the public/state/federal financing you've gotta follow the guidelines and I'm not sure there's a way around it except to do nothing or to take half-measures.

bpsws

Recall the round-about on 15S at Mountville? A traffic light was installed a few years after. Why the concern about traffic from Harper's Ferry? Why would a driver get on 180 instead of staying on 340? Four years, 1460 days, 10 accidents - that equates to 1 per 146 days. I live on My. Zion and travel through that intersection several times a day. Yes, it, like all others, can be dangerous when drivers don't follow the rules they learned to get a license in the first place. 5M is a gross waste of taxpayer money. I am willing to bet that the number of accidents won't decrease and in a few years, another few M will be spent on a traffic light.

Johndoe1

Keyword being “gross” when you say gross waste of taxpayer money! Because it’s truly disgusting I think if we have people who believe it costs $5 million for a roundabout!
https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/innovative/roundabouts/case_studies/fhwasa09018/

Brookhawk

When I was growing up in the 1950s roundabouts (called circles then) were common in New Jersey where my relatives lived, but as traffic increased they became increasingly more dangerous as people jockeyed for position without slowing down. All the ones I knew in NJ then are gone now, replaced by traffic lights. Roundabouts are a waste of money and cannot handle heavy traffic.

ScottRAB

Modern roundabouts, the safe form of circular intersection, have only been in the US since 1990.

Many people confuse other and older styles of circular intersections with modern roundabouts. High speed, east coast rotaries, large multi-lane traffic circles (Arc D’Triomphe, Dupont Circle), and small neighborhood traffic circles are not modern roundabouts.
The Brits even call a merry-go-round a kid’s roundabout.
Go to http://www.k-state.edu/roundabouts/photos.htm to see pictures.
What is, and is not, a modern roundabout:
WA DOT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsCoI7lERGE
NJ traffic circles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_traffic_circles_in_New_Jersey
NJ wins award for building roundabout:
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-roadway-safety-award-winners-announced-300556007.html

wran

I agree that a roundabout will be a big improvement for the safety of this intersection. I live near there and go through the intersection frequently. I have seen a lot of dangerous driving there. Proceed through that intersection with very extreme caution. It is not only cars ignoring the stop signs and caution light and the warning bumps on Mt Zion road. My next door neighbor was killed there. She was heading east on MD 180 when a car heading west on 180 turned in front of her resulting in a collision in the intersection.

petersamuel

A roundabout will be a big improvement over a 'stop light.' It will end the dangerous temptation to increase speed of that beckoning green, and the dilemma on the yellow of 'Can I make it, or should I stop?' With a roundabout you know you have to slow for the turn. And the roundabout's compensation for having to slow is that you won't be stopped by a red light for two minutes (it seems like five) while one car crosses. At the roundabout you slow but almost never have to stop. You keep going, and more safely.

ScottRAB

People using the road make mistakes (like running stop signs and red lights), always have and always will. Crashes will always be with us, but they need not result in fatalities or serious injury.

Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world - the intersection type with the lowest risk of fatal or serious injury crashes - (much more so than comparable signals). Modern roundabouts require a change in speed and alter the geometry of one of the most dangerous parts of the system - intersections. The reduction in speed and sideswipe geometry mean that, more often than not, when a crash does happen at a modern roundabout, you usually need a tow truck, not an ambulance. Roundabouts are one of nine proven road safety features (FHWA).
The life saved may be your own.
https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/roundabouts/
https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/innovative/roundabouts/

Johndoe1

Maybe if the state didn’t love getting ripped off by contractors that are buddies with some of our elected officials maybe there would of already been a traffic light or a circle there! $5 million for a traffic circle and $3 million for traffic signals? Are these traffic signals mining bitcoin or something too?

ScottRAB

First cost is the wrong way to compare projects. It would be like buying a car without knowing the fuel economy or safety of the thing, just its price to buy.

Present Value Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) is the best way to compare two or more choices. When comparing modern roundabouts to signals for a 20-year life cycle (the standard period), modern roundabouts usually cost less. Costs to compare include: first cost (design/land/construction), operation and maintenance (electricity, re-striping, upgrades, etc.), crash reduction (what’s your/your family’s safety worth?), daily delay (what’s your time worth?), daily fuel consumption (spend much on gas?), point source pollution (generated by stopped vehicles = health cost), area insurance rates (this costs more where it is less safe to drive). Each of these things, and others, can be estimated for any two choices and everyone near or using the project area will pay some portion of all these costs (and gain the benefits).

Johndoe1

All very true of course! And nothing is worth more than my family’s safety of course! I’m just saying that for them to claim it’s gonna cost $5 million means they must be convinced that everyone that lives here is stupid. Here are some costs to REAL roundabouts!
https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/innovative/roundabouts/case_studies/fhwasa09018/

poolgal38

I'm not crazy about roundabouts, however, I have seen a fair amount of those accidents in the past, I've lived on Jefferson Pike for most of my life. When we have family or friends that are visiting I'm always cautioning them on that intersection. People DO NOT STOP - either way on Mt. Zion road - I have had to hit my brakes many times to avoid an accident. So what would make a traffic light more effective than a stop sign? People look both ways coming on Mt. Zion to cross straight across Jefferson Pike to the other side of Mt. Zion and can see that nothing is coming and just continue on. Also when coming from Mt. Zion to turn right (really either way) onto Jefferson Pike think they can just make a right as if it were a yield sign....This closure will impact my daily routine for the 8 weeks - but if it saves some lives or accidents then I say let's do it...Police Officers sit in varies places on Jefferson Pike to maybe be looking for those who run the blinking signal/stop sign but you can pick them out - it's clear sailing through there, so people stop then.

jerseygrl42

kind of silly to spend double the amount to avoid pouring a bit of concrete....

ScottRAB

Silly? To reduce pain, suffering and possible death?
If not someone else's family, how about in yours?

gary4books

There are warning lights at the intersection now. https://goo.gl/maps/kVn73RZ3atK2

shiftless88

Apparently they aren't working well, as noted in the article.

gary4books

"Meanwhile, Brenda Lucas, of Jefferson, questioned whether the roundabout was really required.
“I just don’t see the need for it. I think a stoplight would work just fine,” she said."

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