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Route 3 traffic begins to build at the intersection with Waugh Chapel Road at p.m. Wednesday, as rush hour approaches.
Route 3 traffic begins to build at the intersection with Waugh Chapel Road at p.m. Wednesday, as rush hour approaches. (By Paul W. Gillespie, Staff, Capital Gazette)

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman is considering a development moratorium along the Route 3 corridor in Crofton, and he is asking county residents to weigh in.

Development along the Route 3 corridor has doubled since 2009, according to a report from the county, and the highway is now used by 70,000 cars each day.

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Pittman is hosting a town hall to discuss this and other county transportation issues on Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Arundel High School cafeteria.

In a flyer advertising the event, Pittman asked directly, “Should there be a development moratorium on Route 2 and Route 3 until the state addresses traffic?”

Longtime Crofton resident Marsha Perry thinks so. “It should’ve happened a decade ago, but yeah,” she said, “we’ll take it whenever we can get it.”

Pittman first mentioned halting development in the area last week, during a meeting with officials from the Maryland Department of Transportation. Although this issue is impacting county residents, Route 3 is a state highway.

“We’ve created commercial development and a lot of residential development on that Route 3 corridor. Cars are coming in and out all the time,” Pittman said. “We’ve caused the problem as much as anybody, but the road has to evolve with what we’ve done.”

If Pittman decides to move forward with the moratorium on development, he would have to draft legislation to be approved by the County Council, said Councilman Andrew Pruski, D-Gambrills.

Legally, to call it a moratorium, Pruski said, he’d have to limit how long it would last, and list measurable goals and solutions to achieve in that time period.

“We would also have to be able to make a case that the roads are failing, and that we have a crisis on our hands,” Pittman said. He thinks he could.

Parts of Route 3 are already failing to meet acceptable traffic performance, and are experiencing failing conditions during certain hours, according to a report from the State Highway Administration.

“This will continue to worsen as all the intersections within the study area are projected to fail by 2025, except for the ramps at Belair Drive,” the report states.

This is not a new problem, the SHA has been studying the highway for needed improvements on and off since the 1980s. A more recent study of safety and capacity on Route 3 is listed in the state’s Consolidated Transportation Plan as “on hold.”

Still, Pittman expects to face some opposition.

“I don’t expect the governor to like this,” Pittman said. “It would be great if it creates pressure on the state to prioritize these roads.”

He said developers likely would not be supportive of limiting land that could be developed in the state.

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At the town hall, Pittman will be leading the conversation alongside panelists Ramond Robinson, Anne Arundel County transportation director, and Gary Hodge, of Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition.

“We’ve tried to turn a highway into a shopping district,” Pittman said. “And the road can’t handle both the commercial development and the through traffic.”

Route 3 is in part of Pruski’s district, and he said he hears from frustrated constituents all the time.

“I’m all ears,” Pruski said. “I’m ready to go to battle to make improvements.”

Attempts to crowdsource ideas for how to handle traffic issues along Route 3 come the same week the county’s transportation functional master plan, or “Move Anne Arundel!” will be up before the County Council.

The plan will ultimately be part of the county’s 2020 General Development Plan, or GDP.

The transportation plan gives recommendations for many of the county’s long fought transportation battles, but lists the Route 3 corridor as first among them.

In addition to recommending that access to adjacent properties be limited from the main highway, the plan calls for a new commuter bus service, and the construction of more park-and-ride lots along the highway to support the system.

Pittman previously voiced concerns about Route 3 traffic in a May letter to Maryland Secretary of Transportation, Pete Rahn, and asked for help improving safety and mobility. It was listed as his second overall priority of county transportation issues.

Perry, a board member of local nonprofit organization Crofton Matters, said the local community is concerned about the number of crashes that are happening on the highway.

Just this weekend, Crofton Matters released its own analysis of what they called “chaotic conditions” and crashes within a 3.47 mile stretch over the past year.

“It sounds drastic to put out a moratorium but sometimes these are the tough decisions you have to make,” Perry said, otherwise, “It’s just endless development.”

Pittman had raised similar concerns about the Route 2 corridor, which also experiences heavy congestion.

“We have failing intersections and we’re really to the point where we are considering, for both of those corridors, development moratoriums,” Pittman said. “Stop all development until we can address the traffic problem — that’s the message we want to send up the ladder.”

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