Stadium plan criticized in Laurel

March 15, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

Two Laurel City Council members blasted plans for a Redskins stadium near Laurel last night and called for the project to be abandoned, saying local roads would not be able to handle stadium traffic.

Council President Bruce M. Dodgson and Council member Faith C. Calhoun stated their opposition at a news conference before last night's regular council meeting. Both are candidates for re-election on the March 21 city ballot.

Mr. Dodgson said that if any other developer proposed a project with such inadequate roads, "They'd be told to go pound sand."

He said the Redskins have claimed they could empty the proposed stadium's parking lots after a game in a "dump time" of about an hour. But a study released last week by the state and Anne Arundel County said the actual time would be 1.8 hours, even if $52 million were spent to improve roads and build a new Maryland Rail Commuter train station.

The study also found that travelers on major stadium routes, including Interstate 95, U.S. 29, U.S. 1, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Route 197, could expect stop-and-go traffic for more than two hours before each game, even with the $52 million improvement package. Traffic on Route 198 through Laurel would slow to 8 mph after each game.

D. Craig Horn, a stadium supporter and chairman of Citizens for a Planned Stadium in Laurel, said opponents are reading too much into the study released last week. He said the study did not consider some options, such as directing some of the stadium traffic to Route 32.

"It's a preliminary report, and should be taken exactly in that vein," Mr. Horn said. "There is no panacea . . . but to say it's not going to work based on a preliminary plan with guesstimated costs also is ridiculous."

Mr. Dodgson and Ms. Calhoun said they will ask the mayor of Laurel to evaluate a proposal by state Del. Virginia Thomas, a Howard Democrat, to give the city of Laurel 15 percent of the stadium's amusement tax receipts.

"It's a step in the right direction," Mr. Dodgson said, but added that the estimated $589,500 the tax would bring to city coffers would not cover stadium-related expenses, such as police overtime and road maintenance.

Mr. Dodgson and Ms. Calhoun said they will insist that the Laurel City Council hold public hearings on the stadium issue and become actively involved in the stadium planning process.

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