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Annapolis to install first city-owned traffic light in more than a decade

Danielle Ohl
Contact Reporterdohl@capgaznews.com

Downtown Annapolis will get its first new traffic signal in more than a decade as part of a slate of upcoming infrastructure and building projects.

The intersection of Randall Street and Dock Street will get a traffic signal, thanks to a study determining the number of pedestrians using the crosswalks warranted a timed light.

The signal would be the first city-owned traffic stoplight installed in Annapolis in more than a decade, city civil engineer Lisa Greico said. When it will be installed depends on a pilot program, which would launch if the city gets positive feedback at two public meetings held at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Market House.

The intersection next to City Dock sees about 2,265 vehicles during the morning and evening hours and 1,220 during Saturday peak hours. Car and truck volume is highest between 2:15 and 3:15 p.m. when nearby St. Mary’s High and Elementary and Annapolis Elementary schools let out for the day.

The study, conducted by Columbia-based Sabra & Associates, recommends keeping the signal at Prince George Street and installing bump-outs at Dock Street as well as a separate “channelized” right turn from Randall Street to Dock Street. The study cost $50,000.

The pilot would test that recommended scenario by reusing the plastic bumpers the city purchased for the Main Street bike lane experiment. If the pilot moves forward, the bumpers would be used to create extra space on the corners near Middleton’s Tavern and Mission BBQ. The scenario also places an island between drivers traveling straight on Randall, toward the Naval Academy, and those turning right from Randall to Dock Street in order to create a separated turn lane.

“If we get negative feedback either before or after the installation of the pilot, there will be no bump-out,” said Public Works Director David Jarrell. If feedback is positive, the pilot will begin in early February.

Sabra’s recommendation includes keeping the Prince George Street signal despite insufficient vehicle or pedestrian volume. With the current configuration, drivers headed from Prince George Street to Randall Street in either direction cannot sufficiently see oncoming traffic.

The signal could be a long-overdue fix for an intersection often swamped with both vehicles and pedestrians navigating between City Dock, the Market House and downtown businesses. There have been seven accidents involving three pedestrians between January 2015 and December 2017 — five of the accidents could have been avoided with a traffic signal.

The city will be able to time the light to avoid a back-up between Prince George and Randall Streets, said Greico. During the course of the study, a Sabra engineer found cars headed north on Randall Street would back up to Compromise Street, especially during midday.

Other projects

Hillman Garage/Main Street — The city has shifted focus away from the Main Street rebricking project, initially scheduled for completion in 2018, and toward rehabilitating Hillman Garage.

Hillman, with its 425 spaces, absorbs parking for much of the employees and clientele working and visiting downtown. It’s also crumbling, with visible support beams holding up the most precarious pieces.

In 2013, Tadjer Cohen Edelson Associates, a structural engineering consulting firm, identified cracked concrete, weak bearing pads and corrosion among other issues. The consultants reported the garage would, without repair, begin to collapse in two years. It laid out a schedule of repairs to extend longevity another 10 years. It also recommended a regular inspection routine, which the city implemented.

“I think the bike path was a good experiment on how people feel about parking in the city,” Mayor Gavin Buckley said. “I think if we can get through to a parking solution, with increased capacity, then we can move on to the rebricking.”

Design work for the rebricking cost $96,936. It will still be viable whenever the city decides to take up the project — unless Buckley proposes additional changes.

Buckley said a public-private partnership to fund Hillman redevelopment is still “on the table.”

Nuisance flooding — Plans to mitigate nuisance flooding downtown are still in the works. After several public meetings, the city has submitted an application to the Historic Preservation Commission for approval of the redevelopment of Newman Park on the Compromise Street side of Ego Alley, as construction will completely destroy the plaza.

The city is moving forward with the Compromise Street system, as funding and potential redevelopment hold up the Dock Street plans.

Sixty percent of the design work has been completed, but the city is still waiting on additional funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. City officials initially applied for a $3 million grant for the Dock Street side of the flood mitigation system, but proposed development at City Dock forced them to change course.

The amended grant application for the Compromise Street side is now under review, Grieco said.

Pool — The Truxtun Park Pool will undergo renovation in September 2019 after one more summer. The $3.1 million renovations is being paid for by the sale of the Eisenhower Golf Course to Anne Arundel County.

The replacement will be in-kind, but with significant enhancements. The completed project will have a six-lane lap pool, two kid-friendly areas, a new bathhouse and an outdoor movie area.

Public Works facility — The city already issued $5.8 million in bond funding for a new public works facility, which houses equipment, vehicles and administrative offices. Buckley put a hold on relocating the Spa Road building, as he saw the redevelopment as an opportunity to get some new pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

Buckley is in talks with Bozzuto, a Maryland real estate company, to execute a land swap to relocate the public works facility to Forest Drive. The Spa Road location is worth significantly more money, so Buckley’s goal is to obligate Bozzuto to use that money for a public infrastructure project.

The city has already used about $1.5 million of the bonds and will be retaining $848,131.16 to put toward any related work during fiscal 2019. The rest have been redirected to other capital projects.

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