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I Love Traffic! Give Me More on MD 27!

By Andy Hunt, Mount Airy resident

 

Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve lived and worked in many parts of the United States. I’ve lived in big cities, suburbs, and small rural communities (including my current home of Mount Airy.) Six years ago, we moved from the glorious traffic and congestion of a Laurel townhouse community in Howard County into a 40-year-old home on the outskirts of Mount Airy.Oh, how I long for the days of sitting in heavy traffic on Route 1 for 20 minutes while driving to the grocery store two miles away from our townhouse. I miss the hours I spent in wonderful traffic jams during my hour-long commute to work in Rockville every day. I loved the daily challenge of navigating through all the carsand trucks on Rockville Pike as I tried to make it out to one of the many restaurants on the strip and then get back to the office within the lunch hour. I miss the time sitting backed up in the queue at a stoplight while hundreds of drivers clog the roads on their way home, shopping, or just casual driving. I miss the long line of cars waiting for service at drive through restaurants. I even miss people traffic like waiting in long lines at the crowded grocery stores. The hectic pace of suburban life and everyone rushing around is a thing of the past now that I live here in Mount Airy.

 

By comparison, Mount Airy and the surrounding areas are downright boring when it comes to traffic and congestion. For old-timers to the area, I know Mount Airy has slowly been gaining more traffic like Rockville, or Laurel, but I am so excited for the massive developments on the Beck property and all the fun traffic it will add all along MD 27! Once nearly 600homes, townhouses and apartments are built, along with the new commercial buildings, then Mount Airy will graduate from being another boring small town with a slow pace and manageable traffic to a hectic traffic congestion Meca. These changes will put this small town in the same class as Rockville, Laurel, Urbana, Gaithersburg and all of the other suburbs in Maryland. The Beck Property development offers everyone in the entire Mount Airy regional (not just Town residents who can vote in municipal elections) can truly experience the joys ofdaily stoplight bottlenecks, high volume rush hour traffic delays, people speeding and pulling daring maneuvers, and more exciting traffic accidents as people try to avoid the gloriousness of heavy traffic. So, if you really love sitting in traffic like I do, then you should tell all your friends to support the high-densityhousing being proposed for the Beck property, so we can make MD 27 just like Rockville Pike. Let’s not forget the volume of traffic on the tiny stretch of Main Street downtown that will be filled with more cars if Center Street is extended off MD 27. Boy will that be fun!

 

But seriously, folks… the current pre-concept plan proposed bythe current developer for the Beck Property (Pleasants Development) includes nearly 600 new housing units. This is broken down with 119 single family detached homes, 263 townhomes and 200 apartment units in 5 buildings. The pre-concept plan also includes 6 building with a total of 93,600 square feet of commercial space, a municipal building (police station) with on small U-12 soccer field. The Beck Property is split between both sides of MD 27 from just North of the Twin Arch Shopping Center on the East and just south of Watkins Park on the West. It doesn’t take a traffic engineer to figure out that the impact of the increase in residents would exponentially increase traffic volume daily. It is safe to say that most of the families living in these “units” will own more than one car. If each home has two vehicles, this new development will add around 1200 cars to the already congested MD 27 corridor at the place where traffic is the worst.

 

What about the traffic from commercial space on the Beck Property? How much would that add to the traffic? In 2016 the town paid Sabra, Wang & Associates over $75,000 to conduct a traffic study on the MD 27 Corridor, as reported in the Frederick News Post. The News Post Article provided a key example “If land is developed into retail space, it would add about 200 cars to nearby roads during rush hour, and about 2,000 cars per day for every 50,000 square feet of retail space. Industrial space would add about 50 cars per rush hour, and about 500 cars per day for every 50,000 square feet.” Pleasants is proposing almost 100,000 square feet of commercial space

 

Here are a few key points in the study, which are important to how traffic relates to any proposed development on the Beck Property. Remember, this report was based on 2016 data, and common sense tells us that traffic has become heavier in the past 6 years since this report was written.

• “MD 27 is a state-maintained two-way “principle arterial” that runs in a north-south direction…many commuters use the corridor to access I-70… Significant commuter traffic combined with local traffic from residential streets and commercial access points combine to create conditions thatmay overburden the roadway capacity at key times of day and intersection locations…(page 3)

• The “Level of Service” (LOS) measures the quality of traffic service…on the basis of delay, congested speed volume to capacity (v/c) ratio, or vehicle density by functional class…range from ‘A’ to ‘F’. (page 22)

• We should be concerned about the LOS ratings for two MD 27 intersections closest to the Beck Property. According to the Highway Capacity Manual 2000 method of analysis (page 23 & 24) these intersections got just barely “passing” grades in 2016. (page 24)

o MD 27 @ Watersville Rd had a ‘C’ rating for both AM and PM analysis

o MD 27 @ Park Ave/Twin Arch Rd had a ‘C’ rating for the AM and ‘D’ rating for the PM analysis

• The ripple effect of traffic on MD 27 goes beyond just those two intersections closest to the Beck Property proposed developments.

• There were 93 crashes at intersections along MD 27 Crash between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2014 according to the report. The highest number of crashes (27) was at MD 27 and Park Ave/Twin Arch Rd. and there were 6 at MD 27 and Watersville Rd. (page 26).

• Trucks were involved in five of the crashes along MD 27. In 2012 there were 37 crashes, in 2013 there were 23 crashes and in 2014 there were 46 crashes (page 26)

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I couldn't agree with you more Andy. I lived in Rockville since 1965 when it was actually a suburb and watched it slowly balloon into a big congested concrete jungle with all of the big city problems that go along with it. It was stressful to get anywhere since there were so many people, cars, red lights, speed humps, speed cameras, etc., etc. I moved to Mt Airy last year and the stress levels dropped precipitously. People are simply more relaxed here and more kind as a result. Like the song says "Don't go back to Rockville" and don't let Mt. Airy head in that direction. Single family homes and small developments are fine, provided they don't pack them i…

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We live off of Woodbine Rd, close to the intersection of Rt 26(Liberty Rd) and Woodbine Rd. To get home from Mt. Airy I can go through Taylorsville or go down Braddock from 27, get on Woodbine Rd to get home. I have seen traffic increase every year, sometimes we have to sit through 4-5 traffic light stops at Taylorsville just to turn onto Liberty Rd. Forget trying to turn left from Braddock onto Wood during 'rush hour'. We have enough traffic already. I feel for Mt. Airy residents and we will also be affected by more people moving in.

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