Company selected for KI traffic study
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.