You cannot be a resident of Annapolis without knowing the aggravation of Forest Drive traffic. We all remember “Trafficgeddon” when traffic was stopped for hours because of downed power lines after a car collided with a utility pole. We have all witnessed or experienced multiple accidents along this corridor. Forest Drive is already a congested and dangerous thoroughfare.
Imagine having thousands of additional cars on that road at any given time of day. Crystal Spring developers anticipate 1,000 new residents and even more shoppers accessing the new retail space, hotel and grocery store. The worst part is, while Crystal Spring is by far the largest, 17 additional developments are pending or already under construction along this corridor that would add another 800 homes.
The Annapolis Neck corridor has been on the edge of capacity for several years now, but officials continue to approve new development without any informed plan for addressing the traffic issues. A traffic study of expected conditions along the Forest Drive corridor, completed for the City in Spring 2014, found that major intersections will be operating at a D, E, or F level of service during peak hours (on an A through F scale) if only a portion of the planned developments are constructed. The City of Annapolis guidelines for approving new development provide that E and F levels of service are unacceptable. While there may be potential road improvements to avoid this situation, these improvements have not been identified, engineered to determine if feasible, cost estimated, or placed on any program for capital road projects. If there are fixes available to avoid more traffic gridlock in light of the planned growth, it is not clear whether developers or taxpayers will cover the costs.
Increased traffic on this corridor is not only an inconvenience for residents, but a threat to public safety. It must be addressed before Crystal Spring or any other major residential or commercial project is allowed to move forward. The City, in coordination with the County and State, must perform a valid traffic study and create a working model to address traffic issues for the entire corridor. By continuing to approve new developments in a piecemeal fashion, we are doomed to create an overcapacity situation that cannot be remedied.