Valley residents had been concerned for years about the safety and traffic flow at the intersection of Tufton/Greenspring/Worthington avenues. During rush hours, it had grown increasingly difficult and dangerous to make left turns. In addition, speeds were increasing on these roads, making it less safe for all users.
VPC has long supported “context-sensitive” solutions to traffic issues on rural roads. The idea is to improve roads with changes that fit into the rural surroundings and help calm traffic, rather than using more standard solutions that favor widening and straightening roads and designing for higher speeds. VPC commissioned a Rural Roads Design study in 2005 to develop context-sensitive design standards that would help maintain the character of our roads and communities.
When concerns were heightened about this problem intersection in the Worthington Valley, VPC turned to the consultants who prepared the Rural Road Design standards back in 2005. After studying various options for improvements, they recommended a modified one-lane roundabout, which had a variety of benefits, including better flow, safer travel, and less impervious surface. Although a preferred, context-sensitive solution, it was also more costly.
VPC met with elected officials at the state and county level who were able to secure funding for 90% of the $1 million project. This left a gap of $100,000, which VPC committed to raise. While it is unusual for a community to contribute to a public infrastructure project, the partnership resulted in a far better solution that will be a lasting asset for the area.
Gateway to Worthington Valley
This location stands out as an outstanding vista that rivals any scenic location in the country, and thus deserving of a fitting intersection design. Some of the aspects that make this intersection special include:
- Unparalleled landscape surrounding the intersection includes:
- 400+ acre Sagamore Farm under MALPF easement
- 600+ acre Foster Farm under MET easement
- 175 acre Rolling Ridge Estate
- Within the Piney Run Rural Legacy Area
- Within the Worthington Valley National Historic Register District
- Part of the Horses and Hounds, Maryland State Scenic Byway;
- Multiple scenic views designated in Baltimore County Master Plan;
- Regular destination for cyclists and cycling clubs from around the region
- Borders the Maryland Hunt Cup timber racecourse, one of the world’s most challenging horse races and a statewide annual tourist attraction since 1894.
Benefits of a Roundabout
- Provides visual and physical transition from high speed to low speed (traffic calming)
- Increases safety by eliminating high-speed collisions and t-bone accidents
- Maintains rural character (compliments the surroundings rather than clashes)
- Reduces travel delays (facilitates left turns and no waiting at a red light when there is no traffic)
- Employs context-sensitive design
- Enhances environmental quality by reducing amount of pavement and absorbing stormwater
- Accommodates the use of traditional forms and materials, including vegetation
Due to the incredible beauty of the area and the environmental stewardship and commitment to farming by residents, improvements to this intersection demanded a high-quality design that compliments the rural and historic nature of the valleys. That, combined with the need for improved safety and traffic flow, made the roundabout the only appropriate solution. With public funds committed for 90% of the project, it was unthinkable to let this opportunity slip by due to a $100,000 gap. Community members came through to support VPC’s commitment to raise $100,000 to cover the funding shortfall.
In addition to the support from public agencies, property owners agreed to donate the right-of-way needed to shift the intersection slightly. (This off-set design helps slow approaching traffic and also add needed area for stormwater infiltration.) Sagamore Farm providing the services of a talented landscape architect to design the center of the roundabout, and Sagamore Farm personnel will maintain the vegetated center. This is an extremely generous offer that helps round out this collaborative project.