What's Up with the Wagon Wheel?

Some Maplecrest neighborhood residents welcome it while others deem it a visual mess that makes the intersection less safe for pedestrians.


Rarely has a traffic circle attracted such heated discussion as the one located where four streets — Plymouth Avenue, Burnett Terrace, Ivy Terrace and Oakland Road — intersect near Maplecrest Park.

according to Maplewood Township Engineer Thomas Malavasi.

The township installed the circle, or rotary, in late October, and earlier this month added four directional signs in the middle and rotary signs at each intersection.

Some residents balked at the directional sign, calling it too tall, hard to read and unattractive. 

The township has since lowered the sign, and plans to trim and paint the posts and add decorative caps, Malavasi said Monday.

In the spring, Malavasi said, the township will add landscaping including low growing, low maintenance shrubbery. One resident has contacted Malavasi to offer her services to help with the choice of plantings, and the township will also reach out to the Maplewood Garden Club for guidance.

Still, some community members believe the whole project was unnecessary in the first place.

"There has been one accident in the 18 years I've lived here," said one longtime resident of Burnett Terrace. "It was money that didn't need to be spent." The resident fears the rotary will just become a dumping ground for litter.

She said the neighborhood is split on the rotary, with "long-timers" against it and newer residents in favor.

She also said she was unaware of plans to construct the rotary and never knew about meetings the township held with the Maplecrest Park Neighborhood Association. Malavasi said the association had spearheaded the initial meetings and sent out notices to its members.

In the last week, Malavasi said he had received roughly three phone calls and emails from residents about the rotary — two people were against it and one was in favor.

As for making the intersection safer for pedestrians, some residents feel it is doing the job, including one Plymouth Avenue mother who said it is easier for her children to cross the streets to visit friends. 

One resident, Joan Crystal, said on Maplewood Online the intersection is more dangerous for pedestrians than it was before. Other commenters disagreed, with one posting that "the very last thing we need is more paint on the pavement!"

Malavasi said he believes the intersection has been made safer by shortening the distance people have to cross. "It was wide open before," he said.

The engineering department will also address the poor drainage near Ivy Terrace, which leads to puddles in the middle of the road, as part of its regular capital improvement work, said Malavasi.

What do you think about the wagon wheel rotary, Maplewood? Has it improved a dangerous intersection, or is it just a mess of confusing, unattractive signage? Let us know in comments.

Jerry Soffer January 15, 2013 at 03:31 PM
I'm used to the "wheels" along Midland Blvd., but the rotary device at this intersection still confuses me when I drive there in the dark, and I've lived in Maplewood almost 30 years. I'll get used to it eventually, but my guess is that those who pass through frequently aren't the ones posing danger to pedestrians or causing accidents.
aron January 15, 2013 at 03:32 PM
I grew up on Burnett Terr. and now live on Madison Ave. I think it is a waste of time and money. I do not think it makes it more beautiful or safer. We who live here know to slow down in that area and look... Kids crossing the street - Remember Stop Look and Listen - Before it was finished and the sign was up someone had already driven thru it. I just don't like the look - I thought the large open look was better and easier to get thru. Maybe a 5 way stop light would have been better... not really....
Celia King January 15, 2013 at 09:12 PM
I have lived on Plymouth Ave for 26+ years and feel the township not only wasted resources on an unnecessary transformation with wagon wheel rotary, but has in effect made it much more dangerous. I do not doubt there may have been complaints about the intersection prior, however that should have been weighed against the actual number of accidents before making this drastic change. Night time driving is even worse. This was a bad decision and poorly designed including the traffic pattern lines which are designed to train drivers on the proper way in which to navigate. I will add, what was a nice open natural site is now a cumbersome dangerous eye soar. Mr. Malavasi - This is simply not working!
Jill Hammarberg January 15, 2013 at 10:03 PM
I understand and agree with the comments referring to the unsightly sign. It has way too much information to digest while trying to navigate a wagon wheel. I would get rid of it. However, I think the free-for-all driving pattern that existed before has been improved. Few understood who had the right of way, because physically Ivy Terr. appears to run from Oakview to Elmwood. Who knew to stop for cars barreling down Burnett Terr. or Oakland Rd. (as "technically" they had the right of way as one drove along Ivy Terr. to Oakland Terr.)? I also think it needs to go one step further by indicating that cars heading from Elmwood Ave. on Oakland Terr. need to yield to cars driving along Oakland Rd.
Connie Cosgrove January 17, 2013 at 06:38 PM
I have been using that intersection driving from my home to locations across town for over 40 years. I find this rotary any obstruction and extremely large. The lanes around the circle are too small. I am NOT in favor of any more signs being erected in our community. During the last 10 to 15 years we have developed "sign polution" here in Maplewood--not to mention how costly they are.


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