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Hunt Field to generate 24,000 car trips per day

February 23, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The 3,300-home Hunt Field community being proposed for Jefferson County will generate 24,450 car trips a day in and out of the development, and a Charles Town councilman is worried that's too many.

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The traffic from Hunt Field would be eight times the traffic that currently travels on U.S. 340 outside the site of the proposed development, according to figures from Hunt Field's Community Impact Statement.

There are about 3,100 car trips a day currently on old U.S. 340 near the Hunt Field site, according to a 1996 traffic count conducted by the state Division of Highways.

Charles Town City Council member Matt Ward said he is concerned how the traffic flow from Hunt Field would affect an "already congested Charles Town."

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"That's a lot of cars," said Ward, who has been talking with the developers of the community to find ways to ease impact on Charles Town.

Greenvest L.C., a Tysons Corner, Va.-based firm, plans to build 3,300 single-family homes, townhouses and apartments on 1,000 acres just south of Charles Town. The development will include office space and a shopping center.

Hunt Field's Community Impact Statement, which has been filed with the Jefferson County Planning Commission, said two sections of road within a mile of the proposed development have been identified as "problem areas."

One of the areas is the intersection of W.Va. 51 and Summit Point Road on the western edge of town. The "Y" shaped intersection, where stop signs control traffic, has a high number of accidents, said County Engineer John Laughland.

The second problem area is a sharp curve on Summit Point Road, the impact statement said.

The intersection of W.Va. 51 and Summit Point Road is expected to be one of two key intersections for Hunt Field. The second is the intersection of U.S. 340 and the Charles Town Bypass, the impact statement said.

Greenvest is required to conduct traffic counts at the two intersections, as well as at two others near the site of the development, to help determine what Hunt Field's impact on traffic patterns will be, Laughland said.

Greenvest will have to count the number of left and right turns and other traffic maneuvers at the intersections to determine how traffic flows now, Laughland said.

Those numbers will be combined with the anticipated 24,450 daily car trips from Hunt Field to determine the impact on the intersections after Hunt Field is built, Laughland said.

If it is determined that Hunt Field would cause traffic to exceed the capacity of the intersections, improvements may be needed, Laughland said.

It's not clear whether the state Division of Highways would pay for the improvements or whether Hunt Field would help fund them, Laughland said.

"I'm sure there are going to be some changes at some of these intersections with that amount of traffic," Laughland said Wednesday.

Laughland said he does not think downtown Charles Town would be greatly affected by Hunt Field traffic. Because it would be near the Charles Town Bypass, people living in the community could use that road to get to work quickly, Laughland said.

"That may or may not be true," Ward said.

With thousands of cars making more than 24,000 trips in the vicinity of Hunt Field every day, logic dictates that some of them would go through town, Ward said.

Ward said he is concerned about the issue because city officials are worried there already is too much traffic in town for safe pedestrian travel. Ward said he has suggested to Greenvest's leaders that they consider operating a shuttle bus system between Hunt Field and downtown Charles Town to attract "Hunt Field shoppers but not Hunt Field drivers."

Ward said Greenvest executives were open to the idea. The company's vice president and spokesman were both in meetings and could not be reached for comment Wednesday, a woman answering the phone at Greenvest said.

"We don't have all the answers yet, but we certainly have the questions about what they are going to do," Ward said.

Greenvest estimates it will take about six months to get all the necessary approvals to start Hunt Field.

The cost to develop the community is estimated at over $333 million, which will stimulate the economy through purchase of materials and use of local contractors, Greenvest said in the impact statement.

"Greenvest is committed to utilizing local tradespeople and suppliers," the impact statement said.

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