Laurel stadium foes dread traffic

January 26, 1994|By Liz Atwood and Andrea F. Siegel | Liz Atwood and Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writers

Opponents of a proposed stadium for the Washington Redskins in Laurel said at a meeting last night that the facility would bring traffic congestion.

Raymond H. Szyperski, a lay leader of Resurrection of Our Lord Roman Catholic Church, where last night's meeting was held, said parishioners would become mired in game-day traffic.

He said Masses are offered at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon on Sundays, and parishioners trying to attend the latter two services would have to deal with that traffic.

"They said they'd give us their schedule a year or so ahead of time so we can plan," he said of representatives of the National Football League team. But, he added, that might not be good enough because the church regularly holds fund-raising events -- including a huge two-day Christmas bazaar in November -- on weekends.

The meeting was held by Citizens Against the Stadium II (CATS) and attended by about 250 people, who told Anne Arundel County planning and zoning officials that they wanted an opportunity to challenge the proposed 78,000-seat stadium through each step of the zoning and permitting process.

While officials of the NFL franchise have been touting the benefits that a stadium could bring, many people at the meeting complained that low-paying jobs, unruly fans and traffic congestion are really what the stadium would bring.

Don Burgess, president of CATS, said his organization needs to raise money to battle the proposed stadium.

Beltsville lawyer Walter "Mike" Maloney has been giving the group free legal advice, said Mary Lehman of CATS. She said CATS is in the process of incorporating and will need to hire specialists in environmental and zoning laws and traffic experts. "This is a very important issue we are fighting here," Mr. Burgess said. He and several residents noted that, although the Redskins organization has yet to show the stadium's impact on roads, the impact of increased traffic will ripple through Howard and Prince George's counties because, while the site is in Anne Arundel, it is close to borders with Howard and Prince George's.

Also last night, a few miles from Resurrection Church, the Redskins Outreach Committee was briefed by the Redskins' traffic consultant, Martin J. Wells of Arlington, Va., who said a study of nearby roads is under way. The study of 45 intersections is to be completed by the end of February, he said.

Walter Lynch, project manager for the proposed stadium, said he had no doubt that the roads could handle the expected 20,000 cars on game days. He said that Routes 198, 32 and 29 handle at least 30,000 vehicles on weekends and three times that many during weekday rush hours.

Team officials said they are considering reducing the number of parking spaces -- there is room for 23,000 cars -- to encourage people to use mass transit.

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