New traffic management chief hopes to find the key


January 07, 1991|By Timothy J. Mullaney

If you work in Hunt Valley and sat in your car long enough to read this article on the way to work today, you're the person Bill McDonnell wants to help.

The 63-year-old longtime land planning consultant and civic activist is the new executive director of the Greater Hunt Valley Transportation Management Association, a newly organized group of nine area businesses dedicated to cutting traffic congestion in the northern suburbs' biggest job center.

The group -- which includes such big corporations as Westinghouse, PHH, Noxell and McCormick -- plans to do that by encouraging mass transit and smaller-scale programs such as van pools and staggered work schedules that will make rush hour less of a Hunt Valley headache.

"From 7:30 to 8:30 it's a mess," Mr. McDonnell said, and the biggest reason is that up to 85 percent of all workers in the Hunt Valley area commute to work by car -- by themselves.

"We want to cut that by at least 10 percent over the next five years," he said.

The path to more passable roads includes new initiatives in public transit, he said, such as making sure the Central Maryland light-rail line reaches Hunt Valley. While the Mass Transit Administration, the builder of the line, plans to have it run to Hunt Valley, the state so far has approved only enough funds to build it as far north as Timonium.

Once light rail is in place, more bus routes that feed into the rail line will be needed, said Mr. McDonnell, a resident of Stoneleigh in Baltimore County who came out of semi-retirement to assume his job in October.

"The essential thing is we want to improve access to Hunt Valley, Loveton and beyond," Mr. McDonnell said. "There's bus service, but it will have to be expanded as development occurs."

The new transportation management association will also lobby companies as well as the MTA and the state, pressing them to adopt less dramatic traffic-easing measures than new bus and rail lines.

In particular, the association will be pushing to promote "para-transit," a catch-all of transportation solutions.

Those ideas include car pools, van pooling programs, and possibly a trolley connecting Hunt Valley businesses to the Hunt Valley Mall, a popular lunchtime destination for workers in the immediate area and a focus of midday traffic congestion.

The association will also review private development plans, road plans and other proposed public improvements.

In that respect, the organization will draw on Mr. McDonnell's past work with the Citizens' League of Baltimore and the Valleys Planning Council, a civic group dedicated to preserving the Greenspring and Worthington valleys in Baltimore County.

"Both of those were private organizations influencing public policy," he said. "This is somewhat the same sort of thing. I've had experience with non-profit organizations and dealing with private organizations and government agencies.

"They need help from organizations who come to them having done their homework. We're not just going to go down to the Traffic Bureau and scream."

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