The Maryland State Highway Administration intends to replace an accident-prone intersection in Clinton with a roundabout, creating a new traffic pattern that state officials and members of a nearby church hope will encourage drivers to slow down.
SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said the agency has been observing the intersection of Floral Park Road and Piscataway Road since late 2011 and has determined that a roundabout would be the safest solution for the crossing. Before the SHA conducted its first traffic study of the intersection in November 2011, more than a dozen crashes had occurred there, according to Prince George’s County police. The accidents were primarily due to drivers’ not paying attention, Gischlar said.
“Crashes are due to driver error: inattention, eyes off the roadway, impaired driving,” Gischlar said. “These are not accidents, these are crashes. We’ll do whatever we can from an engineering perspective to help.”
Susan Ritchie, secretary at St. Mary’s Church of the Piscataway, which is located near the intersection, said drivers ignore the stop sign located there.
“They put a bigger one out, but that hasn’t helped and people go straight across without stopping,” Ritchie said. “We’ve even seen people coming down Piscataway get in the left turn lane and go straight. We’ve seen all these things happening, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”
After a fatal crash occurred at the intersection in March 2011, Del. James E. Proctor Jr. (D-Dist. 27A) of Accokeek, who attends the church, gathered more than 150 public safety officials and residents to discuss solutions for the intersection. In 2012, speed cameras were installed near the church, which the Rev. Timothy Baer, pastor at St. Mary’s Church of the Piscataway, said has made a difference.
“It has significantly slowed down the traffic near our church and has been a good factor as far as increasing safety,” Baer said.
Baer said he did not know the SHA was considering a roundabout but said the concept has worked at a church he previously led, Our Lady of the Wayside in Chaptico.
“That significantly cut back, if not eliminated, the possibility of accidents,” Baer said. “I’m definitely all for a roundabout.”
Proctor said he also supports the idea of a roundabout, but only if the state can afford it.
“When we had the town hall meeting before, that was one thing we discussed. Funding was the only problem,” Proctor said. “If they have the funding now and want to pursue it then I’m all for it.”
Gischlar said the SHA would enter the design stage of the project after a community meeting later this year.