State plans to build new Park & Ride lot

May 03, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

Kings Contrivance village resident Gerry Hogan likes taking the bus to his job as an attorney in Washington. But on some

mornings, he ends up driving because he can't find a parking space at the Park & Ride lot, which serves commuters headed to Baltimore and Washington.

"A lot of people are deterred by the lack of parking," said Mr. Hogan as he waited for a bus at 8 a.m. yesterday in the packed lot at Broken Land Parkway and Route 32. "You can see people parked all the way out to the street."

The State Highway Administration is planning to alleviate crowding at the 318-space Park & Ride by building another lot directly across Broken Land Parkway, on vacant state land wedged between Route 32 and an exit ramp onto the parkway.

The $1.2 million, 305-space project, which could be completed by summer 1995, would serve car- and van-pool riders, while the existing lot would continue to serve bus riders. Planners expect a final go-ahead from the highway agency's top administrators within the next several weeks.

The project has qualified support from the county Transportation Department, which agrees that additional parking is needed at the busy interchange.

"We're also aware there are some design problems that need to be worked out, to make it work effectively," said Carl Balser, county chief of transportation planning.

But the Owen Brown village board has expressed concern that a new lot in that vicinity would worsen traffic congestion at rush hours. The board wants to schedule a second meeting with state and county officials to discuss other possible locations.

"We agree the present location is much too crowded," said Dorothy Hersi, Owen Brown village board chairwoman.

"The traffic pattern is hardly maneuverable in the morning. One more Park & Ride would choke up traffic flow too much."

James Dooley, State Highway Administration transportation planner, said the department looked at several sites in the last five years that might have served the Kings Contrivance and Owen Brown communities, but rejected them as impractical.

"In our judgment, this is the best possible site," said Mr. Dooley of the state land across from the existing lot.

Mr. Dooley said the other sites were too small, too close to residential areas or owned by entities other than the state.

Mr. Dooley conceded that the stretch of Broken Land Parkway between Snowden River Parkway and Guilford Road is congested at peak hours, but said that state traffic analyses have shown that a new lot would not make the situation worse.

And the Kings Contrivance village board, which also has concerns about traffic, supports SHA's plan because it appears to have the "least adverse impact," said Chairman Bill Sowders.

The board opposed an alternative site off Broken Land Parkway near Guilford Road and the Stonebrook residential community.

All parties agree that something has to be done to relieve crowding at the existing lot.

The 318-space lot regularly attracts between 380 and 410

vehicles per day. The overflow is parked along the entrance and exit and in other areas not designated for parking.

As a result, two-way traffic in the parking lot often is narrowed to one-way or blocked off in some lanes, Mr. Dooley said. There also are problems because of double-parking and people parked illegally in handicapped spaces, he said.

"We need to encourage mass transit use, and we're not going to encourage it when people drive by that lot and see no spaces," said Del. Virginia M. Thomas, D-13A, who organized a meeting last month between highway officials and community groups.

The new lot would be controlled by the same traffic signal on Broken Land Parkway that controls the existing lot, Mr. Dooley said.

He also said that traffic flow on Broken Land Parkway could be improved by better coordinating a series of traffic signals along that road, and possibly by adding another merge lane to the parkway for motorists exiting north from Route 32.

If, as expected, the SHA goes ahead with the project, engineering work could begin soon, Mr. Dooley said.

He estimated that construction could be advertised by winter and completed by summer 1995.

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