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New study wanted for Wal-Mart traffic impact

April 10, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Hagerstown City Engineer Bruce Johnson has asked a consultant to redo portions of a traffic study submitted for a planned 24-hour Wal-Mart which, if built near Dual Highway, could double traffic at times in nearby Funkstown.

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"The overall analysis of traffic in and around Funkstown is inadequate," Johnson said in an April 6 letter to Traffic Group Inc. of Baltimore.

The traffic impact analysis, commissioned by Wyatt Development Co., was for the proposed 208,720-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter, to be built along Edgewood Drive between Twigg Cycles and Funkstown.

The consulting firm reported in the study, dated Feb. 10, that traffic volume has decreased at the intersection of Dual Highway and Edgewood Drive this year, compared to studies in 1999 and 1995, Johnson said.

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Johnson said he also questioned the traffic volume reported by the consultant at Mount Aetna Road and Edgewood Drive. The consultant said traffic at that intersection was lower than it was in a 1997 traffic count.

It is rare for the city to request a traffic recount, he said.

"It's unusual that they (volume estimates) go down," he said. "It may have been an anomaly."

Traffic Group, Inc. did not return phone calls Monday.

The Funkstown Mayor and Town Council and the Funkstown Planning Commission sent a letter last month to the Hagerstown Mayor and City Council asking that new development be postponed until a bypass to divert traffic away from Funkstown is in place. It is unknown when, and with what funds, a bypass would be built.

Johnson said a planned meeting between him, County Engineer Terry McGee and the Funkstown Council may help the city prepare for the impact of the store.

That public meeting will be at 7 p.m. April 20 at Funkstown Town Hall, Mayor Robert E. Kline said.

"We hope to obtain some guidance from the town regarding an approach to dealing with the increase in traffic," Johnson said in the written report.

Some residents have suggested limiting some Funkstown streets to one-way traffic, but that would result in more traffic on Baltimore Street, he said.

"The volume of traffic on Poplar Street will increase significantly, almost doubling for the Saturday mid-day volume. This is unacceptable for a residential street where much of the traffic is cut-through and the street is not designed for such volumes," Johnson said in the letter.

Johnson suggested the consultant find a way to discourage traffic on Poplar and Chestnut streets, routing it instead through Baltimore Street.

Funkstown Mayor Robert Kline said he supports that concept but opposes the idea of turning side streets into one-way streets.

"No way," he said.

Some residents have suggested that approach before and he opposed it then and he opposes it now, Kline said.

As mayor, Kline votes only to break a tie vote.

At a Planning Commission meeting last month, Hagerstown Planner Ric Kautz said traffic through Funkstown has increased by about 50 percent in the last 10 years.

Plans for the store call for it to have two entrances, one with a traffic signal, off Edgewood Drive.

The Wal-Mart would anchor a 31.5-acre development that would include a 30,260-square-foot building for retail stores, two spaces for future commercial development, three storm water management ponds and 1,200 parking spaces, according to plans submitted to the city Planning Department.

The plan, which also includes a new road along the property, has to be approved by the Hagerstown Planning Commission before the developers can apply for a building permit.

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