"It should be noted that the BRAC Planning Commission [BPAC], under County Executive David R. Craig, had an action plan in place since 2006 to address transportation needs," he wrote. "The first intersection [MD 715/40] just started construction with Phase I of the second intersection [MD 7/US 40/MD 159] to start in the next month. Those funds were secured by our federal delegation. We have seen increased traffic and are waiting for traffic counts from the State of Maryland to be reported back to the County."
"There are no surprises on what we are seeing and is part of the modeling efforts that the county and the Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor asked to have done to show the impact of increased traffic in 2015," Thomas continued. "As school opens there will be additional delays since new BRAC relocatees will peak in September and October."
Thomas credits his boss, Craig, with leading a local push to have eight critical intersections addressed near APG.
"Due to the state budget long-term projects weren't addressed by MDOT," he continued. "The state has jurisdiction over most of the roads that are seeing the larger increase in traffic."
"It should also be noted that there are a number of transit options in play, but time delays by the state and limited funding has held those projects back, as well," Thomas added.
He also wrote that "the state has worked on timing of lights and some re-striping of some intersections that requires little funding … Until there is more funding and a push from the state, citizens will need to exercise patience in some of these critical [highway] areas."
Some housing positives
Frederik Archer, president of the Harford County Association of Realtors, said BRAC did not bring as many new homeowners to the county as was originally expected, but it did help Harford's housing market avoid the steep downturn other markets have taken — at least for now.
Archer said more than 3,500 people moved to the area as a result of BRAC, and about 1,200 more are still expected.
That is fewer than the roughly 8,000 he thought would come here.
"To be very honest, we expected more," Archer said last week.
About 25 percent of those moving to Harford from Fort Monmouth, N.J., the federal installation from which most of the new Aberdeen jobs have migrated, are renting, which has proved more beneficial to property managers, Archer said.
"A lot of people in BRAC have decided to rent down here because of the economy. They just haven't been able to sell their property," he said. "It's much more expensive in New Jersey and they are having a much harder time … People are moving out, they are not moving in."
But Archer said the BRAC newcomers have led to positive housing sales in Aberdeen, Havre de Grace, Forest Hill andEdgewood.
Most who have bought homes were looking for a property in the range of $250,000 to $300,000, so more expensive areas did not fare as well, he said. For example, the pricey Fallston market had an 8 percent drop in sales over the past year.
"We have held our own. Right now, Harford County is the place to be going," Archer said. "I think BRAC is a great thing. It still is a great thing. It brought revenue into Harford County, it did increase our sales in Harford County. Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Cecil County was going down."
He noted BRAC "is an ongoing thing" and he expects the impact from it to continue through 2014.
But Archer also expressed concern about the possibility of another recession and what it could mean for the market, noting that 1.2 million homes nationwide are either ready for foreclosure or in foreclosure.
"That is unheard of, and that's only the tip of the iceberg. I don't see us pulling out of this with real estate until at least 2015," he said.
In Harford, "we are doing fine. We are doing much better than I had expected, to tell you the truth," he said. "If we didn't have BRAC, I think we would be in much worse shape … After BRAC is completed, I would expect some of the numbers to go down."