For years, Harford County has been trying to gain a second access point to the Perryman peninsula industrial area.
On Monday, four days before Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor was set to leave Aberdeen Proving Ground as its commander, he and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow such a project to move forward.
With eight large warehouses, Perryman has become Harford County’s e-commerce center for big box distribution and manufacturing, said Cindy Mumby, a spokesperson for Harford County government.
“Only one access in and out of the area is not ideal, for traffic, safety and commerce,” Mumby said. “There are a lot of other details to work out, but this is a first step that makes all the others possible. It’s an important development for Harford County.”
APG and Harford County have had a strong relationship based on good faith, cooperation and mutual understanding for more than 100 years, Philip Molter of the APG Public Affairs office, said.
“At APG, we know that what affects those outside our gates affects us on the inside, because the installation and our employees are a core part of the Harford County community,” Molter said. “Harford County reached out to APG with its concerns, and we are committed to doing what is within our power to help the county mitigate the issue, for everyone's benefit.”
Companies like Rite Aid, Sephora, Kuehne + Nagel, PrimeSource and the Container Store call the area home. There are millions of square feet of warehouse space and hundreds of tractor-trailers use daily the only way in and out of the area — along Chelsea Road over the Chelsea Road Bridge to Route 159 (Perryman Road) to Route 7 (Philadelphia Road).
“In the event of any emergency along MD 159 or the Amtrak bridge, there will be no way of accessing the Sod Run Sewage Treatment Plant or the eight large warehouses in the area,” according to the budget documents.
Molter cited the active shooter incident in September 2018 at one of the Perryman-based warehouses.
“It was difficult for first responders to react due to the restricted routes and to evacuate the area,” Molter said.
With all the building in Perryman, traffic will continue to increase, “further exacerbating delays along the connections to US 40.”
“The MOU captures a shared understanding and proposed framework to mitigate the risk associated with the limited routes in and out of the Perryman peninsula,” Molter said.
Once approved by the Secretary of the Army, the MOU will allow Harford County to acquire an easement on APG necessary to build a 1,000-foot extension of Woodley Road to connect with Route 715 at the APG gate, Mumby said.
Much of the road has already been built by the developer of Eastgate 95, a two-phase, 250-acre logistics park on Woodley Road. The first phase includes 2.25 million square feet of warehouse space, while the second phase includes about 1 million square feet of additional warehouse space.
Woodley Road heads northeast from Chelsea Road. While the route of the connection has not been designed, it will be primarily to the east of Ruggles Golf Course.
Signing the MOU, which is good for nine years, doesn’t mean a shovel will go in the ground anytime soon, Mumby said.
The FY2020 budget includes $1.25 million for engineering and design, with “construction to follow in subsequent years,” she said, though $6 million for construction is budgeted in FY2021, according to county budget documents.
As part of the agreement, the county must first determine if the Route 715 bridge over the Amtrak rail lines is in good condition, and that increased truck traffic anticipated after Woodley Road is extended will have little, if any, impact on the bridge long-term, according to the MOU.
The county will also have to build an 875-foot deceleration lane on eastbound Route 715 and a left-turn lane from westbound Route 715, make any adjustments to the traffic signal on Route 715 to ensure timing “always yields” to APG morning and evening peak hours, and build a median to channel traffic turning from Woodley onto Route 715, according to the MOU.
Construction of the road could have an impact on Ruggles Golf Course, depending on its path, but according to the MOU, the road must be designed so it maintains “its current level of quality.”