Education within reach

Arundel campus: Community college bringing classes closer, but traffic concerns must be tackled.

May 28, 2001

The infrastructure improvements that made Arundel Mills mall possible will now also boost education.

Anne Arundel Community College recently announced that it would build and open a four-story, 65,000-square-foot building near the huge mall.

The Arundel Mills development inspired nearby highway construction and regional public transportation improvements that could become a plus for community college commuters.

But it might turn into a mixed blessing.

College and Mills Corp. officials should look into a crystal ball to see what could happen in mid-November 2003 if they don't plan for the crush of students and holiday shoppers converging on the Arundel Mills area at the same time.

Officials say the mall and college operate on different but compatible schedules. That's not necessarily true during the holiday shopping season when students are attending fall semester classes.

Though the college's building will be outside the Mills perimeter, traffic and parking could turn into a nightmare, even surpassing last year's mess during the mall's grand opening.

That issue aside, the new campus should be wonderful. It will offer a full selection of courses at a location more convenient for many county residents than the school's main site in Arnold.

There's a smart financial plan, too. Anne Arundel Community College Foundation, a nonprofit, will float bonds for the $10 million project. No county or state dollars will be used. This could be the state's first major community college construction project funded by a private foundation.

Equally good planning is needed for traffic and parking to avoid making the holiday season more stressful than necessary. That planning must be done now.

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