Bel Air wants Walmart to look at more town intersections in traffic study

The Town of Bel Air has submitted suggestions to the Harford County government on major intersections that should be part of the proposed Plumtree Walmart's traffic study.

Kevin Small, the town's planning director, recently looked at the project's site plan that was submitted to see how it might affect the town, Small said during a town commissioners' work session Wednesday evening. The proposed location of the store is two miles south of town limits on Route 924 at Plumtree Road in the Bel Air South community.

Small did not submit comments on the site plan to the county, he continued, but he had a few issues with the traffic study done by Walmart.

"I didn't feel they [Walmart] studied enough intersections in town," Small said, adding that only two major intersections had been looked at - Route 1 at Route 24 and MacPhail road at Route 924.

These particular intersections were established during a scoping meeting between Harford County government and Walmart representatives, Small said, a meeting to which the town wasn't invited.

"Five more intersections should be studied," he continued. Small named Route 24 at Marketplace, MacPhail and Route 24, Main Street and Fulford, Churchville Road and Main Street and Route 1 at Tollgate Road.

He noted the intersection at Routes 1 and 24 as well as MacPhail and Route 924 are close to a failing grade by the state, a D, and will be failing in 2015.

"Some of them have been failing for years," Town Commissioner David Carey said.

"If they're failing right now, it'll be worse in two years when Walmart's there," Small added. "They need to make it a more comprehensive study."

Small also questioned the study's depiction of the distribution of drivers to and from the store as it shows only 5 percent coming through Downtown Bel Air.

"That seemed to be a little odd to me," he said. Small said he wants that issue to be looked at again as there should be a market study that shows from where people are coming.

The letter of suggestions from the town was submitted before the county Development Advisory Committee meeting Oct. 17, which drew hundreds of protesters.

Carey questioned the county's response to the letter, saying prior administrations have not considered the town's recommendations or comments on issues.

Town Administrator Chris Schlehr said the county suggested having a brainstorming session with the town to come up with solutions to alleviate the issues raised.

"It's the first time they've offered to do something like that with us," he said. "I think we'll get a response from them. I really do."

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