Route 1 revitilization plan debated
Officials praise improvements, but residents fear more traffic
While College Park residents and officials praised Prince George's County revisions to a plan to revitalize the city's Route 1 corridor, they criticized the plan for failing to address existing and future traffic problems on the road.
The County Council and Planning Board held a joint public hearing Tuesday night in Upper Marlboro to discuss the council's 26 proposed amendments to the Central US 1 Corridor Sector Plan, which could bring major development including five mixed-use housing and shopping centers to the city over the next 30 years.
Residents, particularly in North College Park, have complained for more than a year that the plan could bring excessive traffic and pollution to their communities. While the County Council wants to limit road expansions in some neighborhoods and keep out fast food restaurants and major retailers, residents maintained Tuesday that not nearly enough has been done to address traffic.
"Your plans don't talk about congestion ... yet you build more high-rises and bring more congestion in," said resident Winston Hazard, whose testimony was applauded by the more than 50 residents in attendance. "This makes no sense to people who live in College Park."
Among the proposed amendments, the County Council suggested requiring a Transportation Management Association, or TMA, to manage traffic issues on Route 1 and nearby roads. City Planning Director Terry Schum said a TMA would require developers to state, in advance, how their buildings would implement public transportation, shuttle buses and bike and pedestrian usage.
Council Chairman Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Dist. 1) of Laurel warned that while a TMA would encourage businesses to use public transit, it would not fully address congestion. He added that funding and input from the State Highway Administration could go a long way toward improving Route 1.
"The road system that people are concerned about is the state highway system. [SHA] has been a loose participant in the process," Dernoga said, adding that he'd like to see state and federal support for expanded Metro service and more buses in the city. "All in all, I'm not happy with the traffic congestion issue and how it's being addressed."
While city officials also lamented the plan's lack of traffic solutions, they praised county officials for listening to city input and creating a plan that could ultimately improve a corridor that has long been criticized for its damaged roads and abundant fast food restaurants and liquor stores.
"We like our community and we're concerned by the type of changes proposed," said Councilwoman Christine Nagle (Dist. 1). "Redevelopment of US 1 should be undertaken in a matter that respects the current character of College Park neighborhoods."
Residents have until 5 p.m. Friday to submit written comments on the sector plan to the council. After considering public comments and receiving input from county planning officials, the council will discuss the plan and its amendments at a May 11 work session. It is expected to vote on a final version by June 2.
E-mail David Hill at email@example.com.