Walmart officials have not challenged the State Highway Administration's denial of their proposal to create a critical entrance and exit from Route 924 serving their proposed Bel Air South store.
They have, instead, submitted supplemental traffic plans to Harford County that call for access to the proposed nearly 186,000-square-foot supercenter from the county roads that serve the 17-acre property – Blue Spruce Drive, Plumtree Road and Bel Air South Parkway.
A 160-page Supplemental Traffic Impact Analysis, submitted to the county's Department of Planning & Zoning Nov. 25, has been posted on the department's website at http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/PlanningZoning/Download/2023-1496.pdf.
"The supplemental traffic impact analysis has not impacted the internal or external design of the site. Vehicles will now access Walmart via Blue Spruce Drive along both Bel Air South Parkway and Plumtree Road. These access points remain unchanged," Amanda Henneberg, senior manager of communications, wrote in an email.
"While the developer may desire an access on MD Route 924 to improve marketability, the addition of a MD Route 924 access does not provide a substantial transportation benefit to the overall roadway network," Steven Foster, chief and development manager for the SHA's Access Management Division, wrote in a Sept. 30 letter to Harford County official Alex Rawls.
Rawls is planner with the Land Use and Transportation Section of the Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning.
Joseph Caloggero, vice president with The Traffic Group of Baltimore, wrote in a Nov. 25 cover letter to Rawls that two lots on the property that were slated for additional retail development will not be developed "to maintain more forestation onsite."
The Traffic Group prepared the traffic analysis for Walmart.
"At this point, it is our opinion that the Traffic Impact Analysis can be approved with mitigation conditions," Caloggero wrote. "After the approval, detailed road improvement plans will be prepared for review and approval by Harford County and SHA."
The Arkansas-based retailer, which operates three of its signature big-box retail stores in Harford County, including Aberdeen, Abingdon and Fallston.
Company officials plan to close the Abingdon store, which is a tenant in the Constant Friendship Business Park near the Route 24 and I-95 interchange, and open the larger store at Route 924 and Plumtree Road in Bel Air South.
That store will include a grocery section, which the Abingdon store does not have.
The plan has attracted major opposition from residents of the surrounding community who pleaded with Harford County leaders to stop the project based on concerns about adding to traffic on Route 924, especially with Patterson Mill Middle/High School nearby, and the impact on neighboring businesses.
The Festival at Bel Air shopping center is just south of the now-wooded property, across Plumtree.
Pete Gutwald, director of Planning & Zoning, said Thursday that state and county officials had requested additional traffic information from the developers because of the "proximity" of a number of road intersections to the site.
Fourteen intersections along Route 924, Route 24, Plumtree, Blue Spruce and Bel Air South Parkway would be affected, according to the SHA's Sept. 30 letter.
A "Snychro Analysis" was part of the supplemental traffic study submitted by The Traffic Group.
"The analysis shall combine the MD 24 network and the MD 924 network from Ring Factory road to Wheel Road including cross movements and queuing," Caloggero wrote.
Gutwald said Planning & Zoning staff are reviewing the supplemental traffic analysis, and once all the necessary information is gathered about the project, county planners will determine what improvements are needed.