Don't count on estimates of less traffic on Route 140

October 04, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Carroll County residents shouldn't put much stock in a recently released traffic count that shows dramatically fewer vehicles traveled Route 140 in 1993 than 1992, State Highway Administration (SHA) officials acknowledged yesterday.

The 1992 count was done about a week and a half before Christmas in front of Cranberry Mall in Westminster, compared with a 1993 count in May or June, said Roger Jorss of SHA's traffic forecasting section.

"We've got a more reasonable count now," said Mr. Jorss, noting that SHA usually doesn't do traffic counts after Dec. 15. "Any holiday period really doesn't show a representative traffic pattern."

In 1992, daily traffic in front of the mall was estimated to be 55,025 vehicles, compared with 45,100 in 1993. A drop of 10,625 vehicles daily, from 41,050 in 1992 to 30,425 in 1993, was cited near the intersection of Route 140 and Route 97 north.

At Route 140 and Route 97 south, SHA officials estimated 40,550 vehicles per day in 1992, compared with 36,925 each day in 1993.

"The numbers were counted on a more rational basis" in 1993, said Mr. Jorss, noting that the SHA safety section does the counts.

Annual traffic counts are required by SHA's traffic monitoring guide, said Joseph Finkle of the traffic fore casting section. Actual counts are taken at places around the state and the rest of the intersections on the map are derived through mathematical calculations, Mr. Jorss said.

But annual average traffic counts are usually reviewed by someone familiar with the area before being published, said Mr. Jorss, who lives in Carroll County. "We try to get new counts, but sometimes you can't do that," Mr. Finkle said.

Several SHA officials said they realized something was wrong with the numbers soon after the 1993 traffic volume map came out.

"Based on our experiences doing traffic studies on Route 140, I don't think there's been a drop," said Gene Straub, district engineer for SHA's District 7. District 7 includes Frederick, Howard and Carroll counties.

The drop doesn't coincide with the numbers SHA has released in its monthly traffic reports, said Steven C. Horn, Carroll County's senior transportation planner. "The trend over the last 10 years shows that traffic on Route 140 continues to escalate at a very rapid rate," he said.

The inaccurate numbers could also be a problem for private businesses, said commercial real estate agent Michael L. Mason. Mr. Mason said he uses the map to help clients understand the traffic flows and how those might affect their businesses.

"If the counts are inconsistent, it must be difficult for planning," he said. "It's important to have good counts."

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