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Consultant says population boom will increase traffic problems

June 18, 2004|by Tara Bowers, Maugansville

WASHINGTON COUNTY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Traffic along major routes in Washington County and in and around Hagerstown that are already known for daily traffic tie-ups is expected to get worse by 2030, according to a transportation consultant.

Lewis Grimm, of Cambridge Systematics Inc., who is working on updating a long-range transportation plan for some counties in the Tri-State region, said Thursday traffic congestion will increase in five "problems areas" in Washington County by 2030.

Those problem areas include all of Interstate 81 in Maryland and sections of Interstate 70, Grimm said.

The Hagerstown/Eastern Panhandle Metropolitan Planning Organization is spearheading the plan's development, which will aim to improve major roads and bicycle, pedestrian and public transportation routes.

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Grimm outlined the goals of the plan at a public meeting at Frostburg State University Hagerstown. About 15 people attended the meeting, most of whom were involved with the plan or were local government officials.

According to the organization, the total population of Washington County and Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia will increase by nearly 150,000 and the number of jobs is expected to increase by 79,000 by 2030.

Both of those factors will increase traffic bottlenecks along major routes in the three counties, according to the organization.

The problem areas in Washington County identified by Grimm were:

  • All of I-81 in Maryland

  • U.S. 340 at the Potomac River to the Frederick County, Md., line

  • U.S. 522 from I-70 to the Potomac River

  • I-70 from I-81 to the Frederick County line

  • Most of the main routes in and around Hagerstown



The Metropolitan Planning Organization held meetings in Berkeley County on Tuesday and in Jefferson County on Wednesday.

More public meetings are expected to be held this fall, and the organization plans to adopt the long-range transportation plan in early 2005.

For more information on the plan, go to www.hepmpo.org.

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