Good business, bad traffic; Giant: Supermarkets attract cars, but the proposed Towson location has the appropriate zoning.


IT'S ONE OF those unpleasant realities of suburban life. The proposed development of a Giant supermarket next to Kenilworth Mall in Towson will make traffic a nightmare.

And because the Baltimore area has a mass transit system that's about as useful as a car that won't make left turns, people who live in the Kenilworth area will likely just have to put up with the increase in vehicles.

Vanguard Equities' proposal to build the shopping center has received mixed responses from neighbors who fear the store will add drastically to the estimated 15,000 cars that travel their streets each day. "People buy more groceries than BMWs and Buicks," said one resident, referring to the car dealer located on the proposed site.

He's right. But the added economic activity isn't the problem here. The whole idea behind redeveloping commercially-zoned property for higher and better uses is attracting more people. As big box stores and other retailers move in to replace abandoned drive-ins, aging strip centers and -- in this case -- car dealerships, dying areas will find new life.

The problem is that this area -- like almost every other in the region -- doesn't have the transit infrastructure to support increased activity without clogging roads. Imagine if there were a light rail stop near Kenilworth, or a dynamic rail system that alllowed you to get from there to other areas. Who would complain about this project then?

Unfortunately, that situation is a pipe dream. So county planners will have to be more creative.

They'll need to slow traffic in the area, coordinate lights and improve the intersections at York and Bosley roads. They'll have to make living in this area tolerable with the new traffic.

But this situation should serve as a reminder to county officials and honchos all over the state: We need a mass transit system that makes redevelopment of areas like Kenilworth less of a nerve-wracking proposition.

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