Swope said more money should be spent on bus systems and perhaps on reviving trolleys, a popular form of transportation decades ago.
But Washington County Planning Director Robert C. Arch, who serves as coordinator of the Hagerstown/Eastern Panhandle Metropolitan Planning Organization, said such ideas are not realistic. He said studies have shown that demand would not support ridership for local rail lines.
"It's not going to happen at the county or city levels here," he said. "To make these kinds of things viable - it just isn't."
The planning group is gathering citizen input on a list of recommendations made by a consulting firm that studied the region's traffic patterns. Vienna, Va.-based BMI has projected traffic congestion will require $415 million in road improvements in parts of Washington County and West Virginia by 2020.
"The cost of these improvements far exceed any money that's available," said Phillip S. Shapiro, the company's vice president.
Instead, planners intend to spend $69.1 million for the most pressing needs, including upgrading the Interstate 81/Halfway Boulevard interchange in Washington County.
Additional hearings will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in Smithsburg Town Hall and at 7:30 p.m. in Boonsboro Town Hall.
On Saturday, hearings will be held at 6 p.m. in the Ranson (W.Va.) City Hall and at 7:30 p.m. in Reynold Hall at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va.