Redskins expert says stadium would cause traffic problems

July 16, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

A proposed NFL stadium in Anne Arundel County would cause six intersections in Laurel to fail, even if road improvements suggested by the Redskins were installed, the team's traffic expert testified yesterday during a zoning hearing on the project.

The Redskins are seeking a special exception allowing them to build a $160 million, 78,600-seat stadium in an industrial zone next to the Laurel Race Course. They also are seeking seven variances from county codes on matters such as parking, landscaping and time limits for project completion.

Stadium traffic would cause six intersections along Route 198 to drop to an "F" level of service for an hour either before or after each stadium event, said Wes Guckert, the Redskins' traffic expert.

An "F" grade means traffic would not pass through the intersection within one cycle of the traffic lights, said Redskins parking expert Martin Wells.

"It destroys their whole . . . case," Thomas Dernoga, a lawyer for Citizens Against the Stadium II, said during a break in the hearing.

But Walter Lynch, the Redskins' project manager for the stadium, said the issue was not critical to the team's case. He said it is likely that if the hearing officer should grant the special exception, he will make further upgrades to those intersections a condition of his approval.

The issue may be moot because all the potentially "failing" intersections are in Prince George's County. It is unclear whether Robert C. Wilcox, the Anne Arundel hearing officer deciding the fate of the special exception, would have authority to consider those intersections.

Opposition lawyer Richard Talkin told Mr. Wilcox that his authority was not limited to Anne Arundel County on "public health, safety and welfare issues."

Yesterday, opposition lawyers questioned the Redskins' experts on their assumptions about vehicle occupancy rates, their plans to persuade fans to use mass transit and their provisions to limit illegal parking near the stadium.

Mr. Wells insisted people would not park in nearby shopping center lots for stadium events because it is illegal. But Mr. Wilcox elicited a burst of applause when he contradicted him. "People will break the law," the hearing officer said.

The hearing is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Monday.

An evening session of the hearing will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. No daytime session will be held that day.

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