Bel Air to spend $30K on regional study of Route 1 and Route 24

Arguably the busiest intersection in Bel Air, if not all of Harford County – Route 24 and Baltimore Pike – will be studied to determine the best way to get traffic through it.

The Town of Bel Air allocated $30,000 in its fiscal year 2015 budget to help fund a study of the traffic flow at Route 1 and Route 24, planning director Kevin Small said during a budget work session Tuesday evening.

It would be the continuation of a study of Route 22 from Aberdeen Proving Ground to Bel Air.

"The town's motivation is the Route 1 and Route 24 intersection is becoming – in the future – very critical to the traffic flow through the mid-section of the county," Small said.

According to the State Highway Administration, about 26,620 vehicles travel along Route 1 at Route 24 per day in both directions. About 24,480 vehicles travel along Route 24 in the same area.

The regional study will look at the traffic flow on a regional scale, he said, and it will need to be addressed in the next 10 years.

"We're trying to make sure that as the county grows, that we address the traffic issues that are a result of this growth," Small said.

Harford County spokesperson Sherrie Johnson said the county is looking for solutions to help alleviate congestion in or through the Town of Bel Air.

According to State Highway Administration spokesperson David Buck, it is relatively difficult to rank roads and intersections. He said factors such as the number of lanes and development in the area have to be taken into account.

"Relatively speaking, larger roads with more lanes have more traffic," Buck said.

In Harford County, I-95 has the most traffic because it has the most lanes, Buck said. He said Route 155, Mountain Road near Baltimore County and Route 40 are also busy roads.

The total cost of the study is $230,000, Small said. The Town of Bel Air and Harford County are together paying for 20 percent of it and Baltimore Regional Transportation Board work program is funding 80 percent, he said.

The funding for the entire project includes $135,516 from the Federal Highway Administration, $48,484 from the Federal Transit Administration, $30,000 from Bel Air and $16,000 from Harford County.

"The town is paying for two-thirds of the 20 percent because two-thirds of [the land] is in our town," Small said.

According to Buck, Harford County and the Town of Bel Air have begun soliciting contractors for the study. The two agencies are going through the list of interested candidates, Small said.

Small said the State Highway Administration is not yet involved in the study, but will be as it moves forward.

The study will be completed by June 2015, Small said.

Route 22 study

In 2012, Harford County secured grant funding from the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board's annual work program to study looming congestion issues from Aberdeen Proving Ground to Bel Air and secure short- (2015), medium- (2025) and long-term (2035) solutions for the Route 22 corridor from Route 543 to APG.

Based on the study, it will cost $2 to $3 million in the short term, $110 to $185 million plus right-of-way costs in the medium term and $85 million to $125 million plus right-of-way cost in the long-term to improve the traffic flow along Route 22.

Small said the planning department wanted the county and Bel Air to continue the study through the town and include the intersection of Route 1 and Route 24.

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