Traffic presentation gives glimpse of Robinwood area in 2035

Hagerstown City Council and Washington County Commissioners gather to discuss common issues

January 25, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS |
  • Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, left, and Washington County Commission President Terry Baker watch a traffic study presentation Tuesday. Elected board members of the two governments met to discuss common issues.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Local elected officials got a glimpse into the future Tuesday night when an engineer showed them an animated simulation of traffic in the Robinwood area in 2035.

In one version of the simulation, presented during a joint meeting of the Hagerstown City Council and Washington County Commissioners, tiny animated cars could be seen stacking up in long queues that covered Robinwood and Edgewood drives all the way from Jefferson Boulevard to Dual Highway.

"You're talking about a trip that today would take two or three minutes, it would take you 15 or 20 minutes to get the same distance," said Paul Silberman, a professional traffic operations engineer with Sabra, Wang & Associates Inc.

That scenario factored in 25 years' worth of projected development and several planned road projects, but did not include building a bridge over Antietam Creek that would connect the Robinwood area to Eastern Boulevard via an extended Professional Court.

In another simulation, Silberman added that bridge, another connection to Jefferson Boulevard and a spur to aid right turns from northbound Mt. Aetna Road onto Robinwood Drive.

"You don't see that level of congestion," he said of the difference made by those changes. "You see the lights moving, you see things flowing through the intersection."

City Engineer Rodney Tissue told the officials those results were strong justification for eventually building the bridge over Antietam Creek, despite its $6.6 million price tag.

"It doesn't need to be done in the next two years, but it needs to be done in the long term," Tissue said. "We have to get away from thinking that we can push everything out to that big ring of Jefferson, Robinwood and (U.S.) route 40. Basically, we're just saying we need some interconnection."

The traffic study, a collaboration between Tissue's office and the Washington County Department of Public Works, analyzed projected traffic on and within that ring, which contains a pocket of undeveloped land known as Mount Aetna Farms.

Most of that land is outside of Hagerstown, but is likely to be annexed into the city when developed, Washington County Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth III said.

Projected development in the study area will add an additional 114,000 daily vehicle trips on roads in that area by 2035, Silberman said.

"That's more than on Interstate 70 every day," he said.

Dual Highway alone is projected to have more than 80,000 vehicles per day by 2035, compared to about 30,000 now, Silberman said.

Without the bridge, the average wait time at intersections in the study area during evening rush hour would be nearly two minutes, but the bridge and other connections would reduce that time to less than a minute and a half, according to a chart in Silberman's presentation.

The current evening rush hour wait time is a little over 20 seconds, the chart showed.

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