A $3.5 million project to reduce traffic congestion, resurface roads, increase safety and beautify the streetscape in Roland Park – funded in part by two city private schools that would benefit – moved ahead today, with approval of a portion of the project by the Baltimore City Board of Estimates.
The spending board voted unanimously in favor of an agreement whereby Gilman School and the Bryn Mawr School for Girls each pay $350,000 toward the project and the city uses federal funds for an additional $700,000.
The $1.4 million referenced today is just part of a larger $3.5 million project that includes resurfacing Roland Avenue between Northern Parkway and Cold Spring Lane, said Jamie Kendrick, deputy director of the city Department of Transportation. Federal funds cover the balance of the project’s costs, Kendrick said.
In addition to the resurfacing, the project includes improved lighting, median and sidewalk landscaping, handicapped accessible ramps, traffic-calming bump-outs and new intersection configurations to make it easier for cars to enter both schools’ parking lots from Northern Parkway and Roland Avenue.
Asked about the public expenditure in one of the city’s toniest zip-codes, Kendrick said the city has made similar improvements to upper Belair Road, Edmondson Avenue and other spots in less affluent parts of the city.
“It’s not an equity issue,” Kendrick said. “And I would say the beautification is really a small part of it. It’s really about safety.”
“People coming down that hill from Northern [Parkway] really fly,” Kendrick said. “This will slow them down.”
Getting the Parties All in One Room
The part of north Baltimore in question has long been plagued with weekday congestion, especially during drop-off and pick-up times for the private schools and for Roland Park Elementary/Middle, a city public school.
Kendrick said Roland Park leaders came to the city asking for the already-planned resurfacing project to include streetscape improvement “and we said we don’t have that kind of money.” At the same time, he said, the private schools were asking for a stoplight to allow easier entrance into their parking lots, a change some in the community had opposed.
The timing “was fortuitous,” Kendrick said. “We got the parties all in the same room and worked it out.”
“Each school has committed to providing $350,000 toward the cost of the improvements along Northern Parkway and Roland Avenue,” according to the statement released by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today. “Once construction is complete, both institutions will perform ongoing maintenance of the landscaped areas within the public right-of-way.”
Among the features of the project, scheduled to commence early next year and be completed by Sept. 2013:
– Signalized intersection with left turn lanes into Gilman and Bryn Mawr schools from Northern Parkway (in between Roland Avenue and Charles Street.)
– A left turn lane into Gilman from southbound Roland Ave.
– Special crosswalks and curb bumpouts on Wyndhurst and Roland avenues and on W. Cold Spring Lane.
– Roland Avenue resurfacing between Northern Parkway and W. Cold Spring Lane.