Com­pany se­lected for Kent Is­land traf­fic study

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVILLE — The con­tract specifics had yet to be fig­ured out when of­fi­cials from All Traf­fic So­lu­tions and Street Traf­fic Stud­ies LTD met with the Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers Tues­day, June 13, but talks to move for­ward with con­duct­ing a Kent Is­land traf­fic study were held.

The com­mis­sion­ers met on Tues­day, June 20, with the traf­fic study com­pa­nies to iron out con­tract de­tails and to fi­nal­ize where traf­fic counts will be mea­sured on the Is­land. The goal of the deal is to gather enor­mous amounts of data to paint a bet­ter pic­ture for the state of how the county is af­fected by the streams of ve­hi­cles pass­ing through the county try­ing to reach the beach.

Long an is­sue for Kent Is­land res­i­dents dur­ing the sum­mer months, a lack of mo­bil­ity for ci­ti­zens and emer­gency re­spon­ders has been at the fore­front of the com­mis­sion’s at­tempts to find re­lief from the con­stant con­ges­tion.

Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran in­tro­duced the idea of a study dur­ing the last bud­get work ses­sion of the year, and the com­mis­sion­ers al­lo­cated $100,000 in the fis­cal 2018 bud­get to hire a com­pany to do a com­pre­hen­sive traf­fic study to ri­val the num­bers the Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity has. The county has re­peat­edly said long-term traf­fic pro­jec­tions are short and do not take into ac­count mul­ti­ple road pro­jects in the re­gion that, when fin­ished, will fil­ter more ve­hi­cles through the area.

“Queen Anne’s County is ba­si­cally in the mid­dle be­tween two rag­ing wars — the western shore and Ocean City — and we are just the re­cip­i­ents of all this traf­fic that we do not gen­er­ate,” Mo­ran said.

Mo­ran said gath­er­ing ac­cu­rate traf­fic num­bers now is es­sen­tial so a base­line can be es­tab­lished be­fore pro­jects, such as the widen­ing of U.S. 404 and the 301 By­pass in Delaware, are com­pleted. Be­cause some of the pro­jec­tions the state has given the county, which the county has ques­tioned, Mo­ran said the help the county needs from the state is be­com­ing ur­gent.

Through monthly re­ports, the com­pany can send hard data on traf­fic counts, in­clud­ing lane-spe­cific traf­fic, car speeds and ve­hi­cle sizes, the county ar­gues it will bet­ter be able to con­vince the state to take fur­ther ac­tion on cre­at­ing a third span or a sep­a­rate Ch­e­sa­peake Bay cross­ing.

Since about 1971, All Traf­fic So­lu­tions has worked through­out Mary­land with ju­ris­dic­tions col­lect­ing traf­fic data, David Nel­son, president, told com­mis­sion­ers. The com­pany has com­pleted work for Mont­gomery, Prince Ge­orge’s, Howard, Bal­ti­more and a few Eastern Shore coun­ties, he said, as well as worked with the State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Nel­son said the com­pany has a lot of cred­i­bil­ity with SHA.

“I think that gives us the abil­ity when we col­lect the data we give it to you, it’s some­thing that re­ally shouldn’t be ques­tioned by any­one,” he said.

Nel­son said the de­vice that col­lects the data runs on so­lar power and trans­mits the in­for­ma­tion to a cloud where en­gi­neers can com­pile and cre­ate re­ports. Though not fi­nal­ized, Nel­son sug­gested putting two de­vices, about three feet in length that would at­tach to some­thing, on both sides of U.S. 50 near the Bay Bridge to col­lect traf­fic vol­umes go­ing in both di­rec­tions.

“It’s a re­ally solid so­lu­tion for what the county is look­ing for,” Nel­son said.

By putting up mul­ti­ple de­vices, Nel­son said back­ups can be de­tected as ve­hi­cle speeds is one data-set that can be cap­tured. Com­mis­sion President Steve Wilson men­tioned how once driv­ers get to Cas­tle Ma­rina Road many get off U.S. 50 and be­gin to clog up the back­roads.

Though the state has taken steps in find­ing a long-term traf­fic so­lu­tion to traf­fic vol­ume go­ing over the bridge by study­ing the fea­si­bil­ity, lo­ca­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors as­so­ci­ated with cre­at­ing an­other Bay-cross­ing, any out­come would be years down the road.

Mo­ran said the state is go­ing to conduct an­other study that checks traf­fic one week in the sum­mer and win­ter. Mo­ran listed points that could al­ter the state’s num­bers dur­ing a one-week stretch of col­lec­tion, such as weather and re­gional events, and said cre­at­ing pro­jec­tions on a week’s worth of data can be in­ac­cu­rate.

“The only way we’re go­ing to be able to pro­tect the ci­ti­zens of Queen Anne’s County is if we in­vest some money, do the count­ing and have hard num­bers,” Mo­ran said.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @ mike_k­ibay­times.

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