Road update urged for stadium traffic

August 04, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

"Extraordinary" measures must be taken if a proposed NFL stadium in Laurel is to meet traffic goals and avoid overwhelming the road network, a State Highway Administration official testified at a public hearing yesterday.

Neil J. Pedersen, director of the SHA Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering, said the Redskins' car pool and mass transit predictions are more optimistic than experience at other stadiums around the country would support.

The Redskins are seeking a special exception that would let them build a $160 million, 78,600-seat stadium on industrial land east of Laurel.

They also need several variances on matters such as parking and landscaping.

If Anne Arundel County grants the special exception, Mr. Pedersen recommended that six conditions be placed on it.

He endorsed a binding limit of 20,100 parking spaces on-site -- 23 more than the Redskins have requested, but significantly less than the 25,000 spaces recommended in a study funded by the state and county in March. He said the Redskins figure was a good goal because it would limit traffic and other impacts.

Mr. Pedersen said time restrictions should be placed on stadium events, so that on Saturdays, no events except National Football League games would start before 8 p.m.

And, he said, the Redskins should be forced to put up $20 million to pay for extra road improvements if traffic goals are not met.

A fourth condition would bind the Redskins to eliminate off-site parking. To make this possible, he said, Howard, Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties and the city of Laurel must pass laws creating residential permit parking programs and giving police the authority to ticket and tow cars parked illegally in parking lots. If any of those jurisdictions do not pass the laws, it might not be possible to control off-site parking, he said.

Other conditions Mr. Pedersen recommended would force the Redskins to promote car-pooling and mass transit and require road improvements to be finished before the stadium opens.

Mr. Pedersen said the Redskins' traffic goals were laudable, but the issue is, "Can we achieve their goal, realistically?"

The Redskins welcomed Mr. Pedersen's recommendations with expressions of relief.

"I was holding my breath," said Walter Lynch, project manager for the stadium. He said Mr. Pedersen's comments were "critical" to the project. "We agree with [Mr. Pedersen's conditions], and we'll work with it."

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