Stadium foes attack Redskins' traffic plan

July 19, 1994|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Sun Staff Writer

Opponents of a proposed National Football League stadium in Anne Arundel County yesterday attempted to pick apart the Washington Redskins' traffic plan, a key element in the team's quest for government approval.

Attorneys for Citizens Against the Stadium II (CATS II), a citizens group, and Russett Center Ltd., developer of 3,000 homes at Route 198 and Baltimore-Washington Parkway, challenged the reasons behind the team's request for variances in the size and number of parking spaces mandated by county law.

They also questioned the methodology used to determine how many cars will be traveling the Laurel area roads and the ability of the network to accommodate the traffic.

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.

Anne Arundel County Administrative Hearing Officer Robert C. Wilcox eventually must decide whether the Redskins qualify for the exception and variances.

During cross-examination of the Redskins traffic experts, Thomas E. Dernoga, a lawyer for CATS II, suggested that the Redskins are hiding the actual impact of the stadium on local roads.

The team is planning space for 20,077 cars, though opponents say the number of fans driving to the games would be much higher.

The team's belief that Route 198 and the surrounding network can handle that much traffic is based, in part, on the belief that 25 percent of the drivers who normally travel the roads on Sunday afternoon will stay home, or find alternate routes, rather than vie with the stadium crowds.

Using "avoidance" as a rational, the Redskins have sidestepped the "actual demand," Mr. Dernoga said. "It looks like you are pushing 25 percent of the people out of the way in order to make your travel plan work," Mr. Dernoga said. "Aren't you artificially deflating demand?"

"Avoidance" is a factor routinely considered in traffic planning, said Martin Wells, a Redskins traffic expert. "The Redskins are not compelling people to be prisoners in their homes," Mr. Wells said. "It's their choice."

Mr. Dernoga also challenged the Redskins' decision to measure Laurel area traffic during January 1994, one of the most severe in recent memory, and during the Martin Luther King and Presidents Day holiday weekends and Super Bowl Sunday.

Richard Talkin, a lawyer for Russett, said the Redskins' evaluation of traffic flow did not consider homes, retail or office space planned at the Piney Orchard or Seven Oaks communities.

Wes Guckert, Redskins traffic expert, said residents and patrons of those communities "may use all of the roads in question but they are such a significant distance away that they could easily use alternate routes."

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