Maryland Department of Transportation and State Highway Administration officials on Thursday held an informational meeting for Ocean Pines homeowners on the proposed North Gate roundabout at Ocean Parkway and Route 589.
The meeting, held at the Ocean Pines Community Center, drew a large crowd and included nearly a dozen state officials and several information kiosks. Officials answered questions and concerns for roughly two hours.
District Engineer James W. Meredith asked residents and homeowners to “try to keep an open mind instead of automatically saying, ‘It’s a roundabout and I don’t want it.’”
“We have a lot of information and we’ll talk with anybody,” he said. “We have a lot of statistics that support the idea of a roundabout, but I also want to say that we’re not here to ram anything down anybody’s throat. We believe that it’s a good solution for a congestion problem and that’s why we’re offering it up.”
Meredith said the roundabout proposal stems from mobility and traffic congestion issues, rather than safety concerns.
“We’ve built several roundabouts,” he said. “I have an example of one in Dorchester County. We had a meeting [and] nobody liked the roundabout. I couldn’t get one person to say, ‘Yes, I think it’s a good idea.’”
Meredith added, in that instance, “the difference [was] … people were getting killed at that intersection.”
“We were interested in the public input, but we had a serious safety issue and a roundabout really was a solution,” he said. “We went and built that roundabout and I can honestly say … I have not had one person come to me and say, ‘I still think that was a bad idea.
“Just about every place we put a roundabout, you have people that are scared to death and they don’t want it, and just in every case that I know personally – and I’ve been in this business 42 years … people have always come back and said, ‘I was wrong,’” he added.
Again, Meredith said, the situation in Ocean Pines is different, because the primary concern is not safety.
“We’re not here to tell people ‘we’re building a roundabout.’ That’s not our purpose,” he said. “We’re here to present an idea, a solution to problem that we feel exists on [Route] 589 … we’re just here to throw it out and try to get some input.
“If we get a lot of negative feedback, which it appears that we are, then 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 added.
Comment cards were available to those to who attended the meeting and Meredith said Department of Transportation officials would review each one.
Those who could not attend the meeting can weigh in by calling the Department of Transportation’s Salisbury District Office at 410-677-4006.