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Traffic improvements eyed for Garland Groh

August 04, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

HAGERSTOWN

gregs@herald-mail.com

There are several traffic improvements being discussed for Garland Groh Boulevard in the city's West End - one of the city's most-traveled roads - but the timing on the projects hasn't been solidified.

The road runs in front of The Centre at Hagerstown, the city shopping center that opened in 2000 and boasts one of the busiest Wal-Mart Supercenters in the country, a Home Depot store and several other large stores.

Directly behind the shopping center is the Hager's Crossing housing development, where about 300 homes have been built and another 600 homes would be built in coming years under current plans.

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"It's kind of shocked us," said James Bender, assistant city engineer, of the traffic on the road.

He said it's becoming more difficult to make turns into and out of the shopping center, and the road is now second in traffic only to Eastern Boulevard.

There are at least three changes proposed for Garland Groh Boulevard - two traffic lights and construction to a median where a proposed Starbuck's Coffee shop would go.

A proposed traffic light would be at the intersection of Centre Boulevard - the short road off U.S. 40 - and Garland Groh Boulevard.

The State Highway Administration has given the city authorization to design a light for that intersection, which must be coordinated with the light at U.S. 40 and Centre Boulevard.

Bender said the city has been working with property owners to get the light built, but it's not likely it would be installed before the end of December.

Starbuck's has approval from the city to move forward with its project for walk-up and drive-through service, which would go on the small piece of land next to the McDonald's restaurant.

The city approved the site plan in October but required some traffic improvements along Garland Groh, including some changes that would only allow turning into and out of the shop. A building permit was issued in December, but the site remains vacant.

An official with Washington Real Estate Investment Trust who could discuss the project was not available for comment Wednesday.

A second proposed traffic light relies on an agreement between the City of Hagerstown and a group of stores at the Centre at Hagerstown, which poses the heaviest impact on Garland Groh.

Bender said the city has been working on a deal with the shopping center owner, Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, Wal-Mart and Home Depot to install at least one light near their stores, and the hopes are to have a light by the end of the year.

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