The County’s traffic consultant made his report to the public on August 14th.
In predicting traffic growth the consultant said that they looked back the last 20 years. He estimated that the current Calvert County population is about 93,000 and that the growth rate over the last 20 years was about 3/4ths of one percent (0.75%). So he took that growth rate of 0.75% per year until 2040 and came up with a population of 101,737 in 2040.
KCC took the time to look back 20 years to 1999, finding the population was 69,300. The average growth rate needed to reach 93,000 in 2019 is 1.5%. If you project the same growth rate to 2040, the population will be 127,000, not 101,737 as the consultant reported. And that is a 36% increase in population not a 12% increase.
Numbers matter, particularly for a highway system so close to its carrying capacity. However, you could not tell that to be the case based on the presentation slides, which even the presenter could not always read because of size of the print. The maps and numbers were a blur. The only thing that you could read was the messages that the county wanted you to read. “Don’t worry. Be happy”.
However, that is not the case for the drivers coming home every day on Maryland 4. I am sure that they were surprised that it was a matter of perception that traffic regularly stops over one mile before the Stoakley Road intersection. And yet the average speed reported for that corridor between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. was 30 – 40 miles per hour. Who knew?
Now I ask you this. What does this figure mean? My guess is it is intended to point out how lucky we are because so many of our “road segments are functioning at a level of “green” in the image where no one can actually read the numbers unless they zoom in.
In reality, the green represents our many side roads that branch off of our main road and don’t connect to each other. Showing them skews the real issue. But the consultant compared us to Howard County and Frederick County, both of which connect to other counties at multiple points. We have fewer red or “failing” road segments because we only have one main road in and out of the county. And all of us have to travel on it and all of us will be impacted when the county allows too much residential growth to congest it. The projections in the report are hopelessly optimistic based on all we know about our road system.
A few facts from the report are not fuzzy.
First, the maps and above chart entitled “Intersection Level of Service” point to the realization that MD 4 and Cox Road in Huntingtown is going to be a big problem, and the county is going to be making it worse by increasing development at that intersection with the town center expansion. Also, traffic through Prince Frederick is going to be significantly worse, especially if additional road improvements aren’t made. And, remember, this worsening of traffic will occur even if we continue to grow at the so-called “historical” rate, which doesn’t take into account the impact of any changes in zoning.
Second, why isn't there a third column showing the Level of Service at these intersections with all the growth proposed in the new Comprehensive Plan?
Finally, despite the fact that the county was supposed to present this report two months ago, it is holding to its deadline requiring citizen comments in just over 2 weeks, and as of this writing, the Transportation Plan has yet to be posted to the County’s website. Does that remind you of a recent planning process?
View a video of the Transportation Plan Workshop and the consultant's slideshow here.
According to the County's website:
"The draft plan will be posted on the county’s website the week of Aug. 19 for public review and comment. A revised plan will be presented to the Calvert County Planning Commission for review at a work session during a special meeting Thursday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. at the Calvert Pines Senior Center. Public comment due on draft by Sept. 6, 2019."