Greenspring Valley-Falls among five Balto. County intersections to get an F

Failing label could slow area development projects

January 07, 2000|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Developers of Green Spring Station, battling zoning laws and development restrictions, face another obstacle: Baltimore County officials say the intersection where they want to build is so clogged that development should be halted.

The county's Department of Public Works has labeled the intersection of Greenspring Valley and Falls roads one of five failing intersections in the county.

The designation appears on new maps of county roads and water and sewer service presented yesterday to the County Planning Board. If the Planning Board and County Council agree with the designation this spring, development could not occur until the intersection is improved.

Labeling Greenspring Valley and Falls roads as failing would not affect the county's plans to build a regional park at the intersection, said Elise Armacost, a county spokeswoman.

"The intersection is failing during rush hour. The park is not expected to have an impact on rush hour periods," she said.

However, the failing label comes as two of three developers proposing office buildings at the popular site in Brooklandville appeared ready to move forward with their projects.

Foxleigh Enterprises and Mullan Enterprises have submitted plans that appear to comply with a county law that limits the size of developments next to rural lands. The projects are being reviewed this month by county department heads who could give the green light to development.

A third property owner, William Hirshfeld, owner of Greenspring Racquet Club, is fighting in court for the right to build a larger office project that falls outside the county's size regulations.

Unless construction on the projects begins before the County Council adopts the new intersection labels, the projects would be stopped.

Stuart Kaplow, a lawyer representing Foxleigh Enterprises, said he is concerned, but not panicked. "At this point, it is very early in the process," he said.

The new maps, recommended by the Department of Public Works, show five failing intersections in the county.

In addition to the Greenspring Valley and Falls roads intersection, the intersection of Gwynnbrook Avenue and Owings Mills Boulevard slipped from a D to an F.

Three others previously labeled failing are still clogged: Harford Road and Putty Hill Avenue, Liberty Road and Washington Avenue, and Loch Raven Boulevard and Joppa Road.

One previously failing intersection at Rolling and Valley roads in Catonsville has been upgraded to a B. Several intersections are rated D -- heavily congested -- including a new one at Beaver Dam and Shawan roads in the northern part of the county.

Stephen E. Weber, chief of the county's Traffic Engineering Division, said failing intersections are those in which cars lined up at a stop light are unable to move through the intersection in one change of the light more than 85 percent of the time.

The studies are done during rush hour and are supposed to reflect the slowest traffic movement at an intersection.

Residents have been complaining for years about the traffic at Falls and Greenspring Valley roads, but until the studies in the fall, the county had rated the intersection a D.

The State Highway Administration, which oversees Falls Road, is designing signal changes that could relieve some of the problems at the intersection, but a long-range solution will take more time and probably require changes in the road design, said SHA spokeswoman Suzanne Bond.

"We would consider it a road that is in need of assistance," she said.

The intersection at Owings Mills Boulevard and Gwynnbrook Avenue is scheduled for improvement, and designs for that project have been started, Weber said.

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