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Proposed Creation of Gilman School Turning Lane and Associated Loss of Green Median Strip, Roland Avenue

Gilman Turn Page

Gilman Turn Media

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The Zelkova-planted Median Strip, Summer 2009. The City Proposes Removing the Trees and Paving over the Median to Create a Left-turn Lane into Gilman School. (Photo: Chris McSherry.)

Note: The documents below are listed in order of their being received by the web-site editor. In other words, the newer the item, the further down the page it will be.

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Community Survey: Should the median be paved?

Have your say by clicking here for the RP community survey.

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(Photos: Chris McSherry.)

 

Proposed Left-turn Lane into Gilman School: The Background Story

For many years the RP Civic League has been involved in discussions with representatives from Gilman School and the City of Baltimore about Gilman’s desire to have a left-turn lane from southbound Roland Avenue into its main driveway entrance, directly opposite the Roland Park Country School entrance. Gilman parents currently have to wait in the regular left-hand lane of southbound Roland Avenue to make their left turn into the campus. This creates congestion on southbound Roland during the morning and afternoon peak carpool hours.

However, the RP community has always stated that it does not want to loose the green space in the median and sacrifice the trees there for the benefit of ease of traffic flow. Also, the congestion at that intersection serves to slow traffic as it enters the already very dangerously congested blocks further south, from Gilman to Deepdene and then from Deepdene to Longwood roads.

As of June 2008, all of the involved parties had reached a compromise agreement that was nearly finalized. The Civic League had tentatively agreed to allow a 100-foot left- turn lane to be cut into the median on Roland Avenue if — and only if — the city would agree to restore the median to its full width at the northern end of Gilman’s campus and to plant that newly restored median with zelkova trees. This northern part of the median strip was many years ago greatly reduced in width of create another, now unused, left-tern lane into a different part of the Gilman campus. Currently there are yellow bollards blocking the cut-through in this part of the median.

Also, the city was going to formulate and present a plan for traffic calming on southbound Roland Avenue below the entrance to Gilman. At the meeting to discuss the traffic-calming proposal all parties were present — except the representative from the city. Despite repeated efforts to contact him, the city representative never presented a traffic-calming plan and the proposed compromise was never finalized.

In the spring of 2009, the city decided to renew its efforts to bring the plan to fruition, and Civic League representatives met with city representatives. The city reproposed a plan that was more than 10 years old and that included a 440-foot left-turn lane (with the attendant paving of that much of the current median strip), no restoration of the northern part of the median, a new northbound left-turn lane into the St. Mary’s Seminary campus, and no traffic calming on southbound Roland. The Civic League rejected that proposal, as it had when it was originally proposed in the late 1990s.

The Situation Now

Now the city is proposing to install a 250-foot left-turn lane. This would require removing the entire median from Gilman to the southern entrance of St. Mary’s Seminary. This part of median at present is 265 feet long, so essentially the entire thing would have to be removed and all 11 mature zelkova trees and 2 large flowering shrubs would be cut down.

The city has not released a traffic study demonstrating that such a lane is necessitated by the amount of traffic into Gilman. Nor has the city addressed the issue of restoring the median at the northern end. It has proposed nothing to calm traffic on southbound Roland Ave — an important issue because, if the congestion Gilman complains of is relieved, cars will be able to move through more quickly down toward Roland and Deepdene, an intersection invariably crowded with children on their way to the Country School and RP Elementary/Middle.

Gilman’s and the City’s Position

Al Foxx, the head of the Department of Transportation’s Traffic Division has said, “The project was revisited by [the] engineering analysis group and the original determination [was] that a 440-foot lane would adequately address the turn need. At the request of interested parties, including the Roland Park Civic League, [the engineering group was] asked to shorten the run to spare as much green space as…possible, to 100 feet. [The engineers] have adjusted the design only to 250 feet. This adjusted proposal is the barest minimum that will marginally service the indicated need. They have also looked at the community request to install an abbreviated 100-foot lane. They feel that shortening the run to 100 feet will be ineffective and likely contribute to traffic problems. A shorter queue [i.e., the 100-foot lane] would reduce green space and provide no tangible relief from the current traffic.”

The Rebuttal

The Civic League is opposed to removing this entire median and would like the city to renew discussions of a reduced, 100-foot left-turn lane because:

  • The 250-foot left-turn lane is excessively long. Gilman does not need that much space for cars waiting to turn left. A hundred feet would adequately serve Gilman’s needs.
  • The city has released no traffic study of the number of cars that wait to make the left turn into Gilman, and has presented no empirical data to justify this length turn lane.
  • The median provides important green space for the community and visually creates an impediment to speeding on Roland Avenue.
  • The median is an important aspect of the long-term planning for Roland Avenue and the city and RP Roads and Maintenance have invested a great deal of work and money in making it uniform for the length of Roland Avenue.
  • Removing 11 mature Zelkova trees and 2 large flowering shrubs is unnecessary to achieve Gilman’s goal.
  • Completely removing all congestion from that intersection will allow cars to move more quickly into the next block, when in fact they need to be slowing as they enter the next block.
  • This plan will make the students going to all the area schools less safe, and is contrary to the schools’ and the community’s long-term goals.

Photos of the affected area are at left. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

 

 — Chris McSherry

August 31, 2009

(Click icon.)

 

Traffic Engineers' Plan in Summary

Reproduced at left is a summary of Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson, Inc.'s analysis. The document is described by the city, in an e-mail to Civic League President Phil Spevak, this way:

"Attached you will find the results of the Department of Transportations Traffic Impact Study for Roland Avenue (Gilman School). Idris Shahid the project engineer for DOT and our consultant will attend your next meeting to answer any questions the community might have. Pamela Jackson, Northwest Liaison - DOT Planning."

Click the PDF icon for the text of the Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson summary.

— D.P. Munro

Web-site Editor

RolandPark.org

August 31, 2009


The opinions expressed in the above writing are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or stated policy positions of the Roland Park civic associations.

   

What's at Stake

The Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson traffic summary report (see above), says that the city has agreed to a left-turn lane reduced in length to 250 feet — more than the 100 feet requested by Roland Park, but less than the 440 feet desired the the city and Gilman.

However, the graphic that accompanied the plan still showed a 440-foor turn lane. This plan, by its own lights, would add 2,840 square feet of green space at the northern end of the median, while losing 8,100 square feet at the southern — a net loss of 5,260 square feet of trees, shrubs and grass.

Below, the 440-foot plan is shown on the left, while an aerial photo of the current situation is reproduced on the right.

    

The 440-foot plan.     (Click to enlarge.)     The status quo.

— D.P. Munro

Web-site Editor

RolandPark.org

August 31, 2009


The opinions expressed in the above writing are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or stated policy positions of the Roland Park civic associations.