- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Design work is under way to change the four-way stop signal intersection in Clements into a roundabout, like the one in Chaptico.
The Maryland State Highway Administration spent $1.7 million on the Chaptico roundabout, which was completed in October 2007.
At first there was skepticism about the Chaptico roundabout. When it opened, the roundabout slowed the large trucks coming up and down Budds Creek Road. “The residents really liked it,” said Charlie Gischlar, spokesman for SHA.
Chaptico, like Clements less than 5 miles to the south on Route 234, lies at the bottom of a hill.
Roundabouts slow traffic down, while keeping the queue moving, Gischlar said, and the severity of accidents at an intersection is lessened.
“You can’t go through a circle at 70 mph,” he said.
There is nothing wrong with a four-way stop sign intersection, Gischlar said. “They’re useful traffic control devices. They work,” he said. But “things can flow a lot smoother with a roundabout.”
It was the last board of county commissioners that brought up the Clements intersection as an issue, said John Groeger, deputy director of the St. Mary’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation.
“The county did ask for additional control there at the intersection because of backups during the peak hours,” he said.
Changing the intersection to a roundabout would actually narrow the lanes and wouldn’t require acquiring much property, he said.
The gas station at one corner would actually gain parking area. The park and ride lot in front of a ballfield could see a small impact.
As for Anderson’s Bar, “I don’t see much of impact there either,” Groeger said, upon review of the plans.
The old store at the other side of the intersection could lose an entrance to Budds Creek Road.
Chaptico is the only major roundabout in St. Mary’s County, Groeger said, though there are smaller ones in the neighborhoods of Challenger Estates in California and Hunting Creek in Lexington Park.
“They seem to function pretty well,” he said. “There’s less confusion on who’s got the right of way. Four-way stops aren’t the best for high traffic volumes.”
A 2010 state highway volume maps shows an average daily traffic count of 6,602 vehicles a day at the Clements intersection and 5,912 at Chaptico.
The cost to design the Clements roundabout is $500,000, but for it to move forward, “it has to compete for construction funding” with other highway projects in the state, Gischlar said.
The design in still in the early stages, he said.