Approximately forty people showed up at last week's design charrette (what's a charrette?) to discuss ideas to make MD 198 safer, easier to use, and less ugly.
This meeting was the second community forum hosted by the Coalition to Fix MD 198.
Results from feedback forms
We asked attendees to complete feedback forms about their concerns and preferences. Here are the key takeaways:
Although we had about 40 people, only two-thirds submitted feedback forms. At our next meeting, we will remind people about the importance of submitting comments in writing in order to make their opinion count.
Some people noted that there should be more parents and businesses represented at the meeting. In response, we have contacted local PTA groups and several businesses along 198. Please help by spreading word too!
Hopefully more businesses are willing to join the effort to support improving 198 by attending future meetings. Maximizing inclusion and participation is one of the fundamental principles of our coalition's consensus-based decision-making process.
All but one of the attendees indicated that they found the meeting worthwhile and that another event would be good for the community.
The top three concerns listed in the feedback forms were:
1 - Speeding (82% of respondents)
2 - Access to shops/hard to make turns (68%)
3 - Unsafe for pedestrians (61%)
After we presented and briefly discussed all the possible ideas for improving MD 198 in Burtonsville, we asked people what they thought of each option.
We noticed the following three clear takeaways from people's responses:
1) The community is evenly divided about the merits of a center turn lane or additional stoplights. Because our objective is to develop a consensus on a locally-preferred alternative, we will have to discuss this item in more detail.
2) There is little support for making the lanes narrower, even though studies show it would slow down traffic.
Other ideas that were proposed during the meeting included a 29/198 bypass, speed cameras, buried power lines, reducing the ICC toll, and establishing a community association to advocate on behalf of Burtonsville's businesses and residents. The Coalition is discussing the feasibility of these options with the responsible agencies and will report back our findings.
Results from small group discussions
During the second half of the meeting, we broke out into small groups so people could explore new traffic options using LEGO blocks.
People were instructed to use consensus-based decision-making to develop a solution that was acceptable to the entire group. An important aspect of consensus is that participants are encouraged to reach a decision that everyone can support, even if it is not the most-favored solution for each individual.
Each color represented a different potential design feature: side streets, driveways, medians, two-way center turn lanes, left-turn lanes, etc. Photo by Fisseha Adugna.
At the end of the meeting, each small group presented their proposal. We ended up with the following ideas:
1) 5-lane road with two-way center turn lane (2+1+2).
2) 3-lane road with two-way center turn lane (1+1+1).
3) 4-lane road with medians and left turn lanes into consolidated driveways for businesses.
4) 4-lane road with two-way center turn lane (1 westbound lane + 1 center turn lane + 2 eastbound lanes).
We are planning our next meeting for early February. The goal of the next meeting is to see if we can discuss the alternatives more and develop a consensus on our preferred solution. If you care about the future of Burtonsville, we hope you can attend the meeting!
In the meantime, please help us get the word out and encourage your neighbors to sign up for our emails at www.fix198now.com and "like" our facebook page.