As we wait for the City Planning and Zoning Department (P&Z) to finish its review of the January 22 filings for the Providence Point development at Crystal Spring, we continue to emphasize our four core issues of concern that have yet to be fully addressed. These include:
- Extending the parallel road through the development to the CVS shopping center as part of traffic improvements;
- Reducing forest destruction and ensuring100% reforestation on site;
- Managing stormwater so runoff and pollution are not increased; and
- Executing a strong conservation easement on the undeveloped land to prevent future development and protect all remaining forest.
This is the first of four posts where we will provide an update on where we stand with each of these four issues.
Everyone who lives or works on the Forest Drive peninsula is already affected by horrible traffic congestion and is concerned about the increase in traffic that will result from new developments. Please see the updated map below based on data from P&Z showing nearly 1,200 new housing units and over 256,000 sq. ft. of new commercial space planned for or under construction along the already crowded Forest Drive corridor. No prospective or pending development comes close to the size of Providence Point with 303 new housing units and 48 health care suites on a 35-acre footprint at the failing intersection of Forest Drive and Spa Road.
Last year, the City of Annapolis commissioned STV, Inc. to conduct a traffic assessment for the Providence Point development. The study confirms that the two main intersections for entrance and exit from The Village at Providence Point (Forest Drive/Crystal Spring Farm Road and Forest Drive/Spa Road) are already at or will be at an F level of service (the worst rating possible) during rush hours. Even under the most optimistic assumptions, the intersections are or will be at an E level of service during rush hours. City Code dictates that new developments may not worsen conditions at such E or F rated intersections.
Our position is that traffic improvements mandated as part of any approval for Providence Point should improve existing traffic flows. At a minimum, traffic on Forest Drive and through already overloaded intersections should not be worsened because of the development.
The STV, Inc. traffic study notes that at least 76 AM and 82 PM rush hour trips will be generated by the Providence Point development. This is with 383 housing units previously planned. With the 351 units currently proposed, the numbers are 64 and 68 rush hour trips. Overall, there would be nearly 1,500 more vehicle trips a day generated by The Village at Providence Point.
Current plans to address traffic impacts include: converting the intersection of Forest Drive at Crystal Spring Farm Road to a right-in only, right-out only intersection; adding another northbound left turn lane from Spa Road to Forest Drive; adding deceleration lanes on Forest Drive approaching Crystal Spring Farm Road and on Spa Road approaching the entrance to the project at the new Skipper Lane; and changing the southbound lane at the intersection of Forest Drive at South Cherry Grove Avenue.
The improvements proposed are solid, but they should also include a parallel road from Skipper Lane behind the CVS to connect to the main road through the development. This would give senior residents as well as residents living off Spa Road direct access to the shopping center eliminating the need to use Forest Drive and Spa Road for these trips. Improvements must also be made ahead of any development to be sure that construction trucks entering and exiting the property will not adversely impact traffic flows and safety.
So far, P&Z sent the developers five pages of comments on just the environmental aspects of the plan that will require significant modifications. The January filings were so far off base, it took P&Z five months to formulate this first round of comments. They are now working on comments on city code compliance, site design, and architecture. These will include what, if any, directives they have for the developers on their traffic improvements.