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Understating the Obvious

Updated: Feb 7, 2019

Why Is The County’s Consultant Understating The Obvious?

We appreciate the Planning Commission’s responsiveness to citizen concerns at its January 10th meeting on the Comprehensive Plan and appreciate their desire to have a transportation study done before the Comprehensive Plan is completed. We do not appreciate the response from the consultant who continues to say that no traffic study is needed now.

This is the consultant who tried to reassure citizens last spring that there was no traffic problem, noting that “the traffic volumes have been stable” and showing a table with average daily traffic counts in the range of 41,000 to 51,000 since the year 2000, without mentioning the State Highway Administration (SHA) projection of 83,500 trips per day by 2030, first reported by the county last winter.

Excerpt: County's Letter to SHA February, 2017

This is the same consultant who concluded in the draft plan that “the highway system is presently operating well. While some delay at signalized intersections in Prince Frederick is experienced during the peak travel periods, all arterial and collector roads are operating at acceptable levels of service.”

And yet she goes on to dismiss the validity of the State Highway Administration (SHA) projection of 83,600 trips per day to the Planning Commission saying that “SHA’s projection is calculated independent of the county’s projected land use and without the benefit of a local or regional travel demand model, since one does not exist”. In fact, SHA had the benefit of a 2013 traffic study that it conducted which included specific land use projects in the pipeline in the Prince Frederick area. In my experience SHA traffic studies have been very reliable. If anything, its projection is low because it was prepared before the county proposed expanding the size of Prince Frederick by 30%.

She concludes that “without such guidance, SHA often projects traffic increases using a fixed percentage.” It might have been good to pick up the phone and find out how SHA prepared its projection. Calvert’s future is far too important to speculate.

Let’s get an updated traffic study done before the plan is completed. The state’s projection of 83,600 trips per day in 2030 is 40% higher than current traffic on MD 5 north of Waldorf. Who in Calvert County believes that is an acceptable level of traffic and what has SHA seen in land use patterns that would generate such a projection? Citizens and the Planning Commission need to know.

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