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City engineer: Parking, not traffic, main issue for proposed stadium

April 27, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown City Engineer Rodney Tissue addresses traffic and parking issues Tuesday morning that may arise if the proposed multiuse entertainment complex is built in downtown Hagerstown.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

If attendance for Hagerstown Suns’ games in a new downtown facility are on par with projections, city officials estimate an influx of from 1,100 to 2,000 vehicles arriving for an evening at the ballpark.

That shouldn’t pose a problem, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said Friday as he addressed parking and traffic issues associated with the proposed downtown multiuse sports and events center at City Hall.

“We don’t see the issue really being a traffic issue as much as being able to efficiently find the parking that’s here,” Tissue said during a press conference called on the issue.

The city of Hagerstown currently has about 1,800 public on-street and off-street parking spaces available to motorists throughout the City Center, which includes its two decks and five parking lots, he said.

If city and Washington County officials agree to move forward with building the proposed $30 million center, it would include an additional parking deck on East Antietam Street with between 400 and 500 spaces, Tissue said.

The goal would be to help educate people coming into the city for games about where it’s quickest and easiest to find parking, and then be able to walk to the ballpark. Tissue said the city most likely would ask the Suns to assist in providing parking information to people buying tickets.

On the issue of increased traffic due to ball games, Tissue said he doesn’t think it will pose a major problem to current flows through the streets of downtown.

Peak rush hour traffic occurs around 5 to 5:30 p.m., Tissue said, while most evening Suns games typically begin around 7 p.m.

Along with data provided by the Suns about where people are coming from for games, the city examined nine traffic signals in the vicinity of the proposed location on East Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue, which yielded favorable results, Tissue said.

Using a 2,000-vehicle count as the model, about 800 motorists use Dual Highway to drive in for games, while about 500 use Washington Street from Interstate 81 and another 700 come in on Pennsylvania Avenue, Potomac Street, Maryland Avenue and other streets, Tissue said, citing attendance information from the team.

“The levels of service are very high,” he said. “It’s very efficient; minimal amount of delays for an urban area. You have to expect some delays in a gridded traffic system like we have.”

Since widening streets near the center is not possible, city officials would look into optimizing signal timing for before and after events to help maximize traffic flow at peak times, Tissue said.

As a way to help people get out of parking decks afterward, Tissue said consideration would be given to changing the operation so people could pay when they arrived and leave without having to stop at the gate.

The traffic system is “virtually free downtown” around 9 or 10 p.m., which would help outgoing traffic disperse more smoothly, he said.

City Councilman Martin Brubaker attended the meeting, and brought up the issue of providing adequate and safe walkways for pedestrian access.

Tissue said auxiliary police could help direct traffic and help people to safely cross streets during peak times before and after games.

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