New data from the 2019 Anne Arundel County Master Transportation Plan shows Forest Drive is the most dangerous local road in the county, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to most of us who use it regularly.
According to the county, five of the top ten local intersections for crashes are on Forest Drive, making up 45% of the crashes in the county. These high-crash intersections are at Tyler Avenue, Hilltop Lane, South Cherry Grove Avenue, Bywater Road, and Solomon’s Island Road. Eight of the top ten high crash intersection locations were in or near Annapolis.
This information comes as the city is processing plans for dozens of developments along this corridor that would add thousands of new homes. The map below documents the nearly 1,200 new housing units and over 256,000 square feet of commercial and retail space planned for or already under construction in this sector.
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. Developers have said they anticipate 500 new residents and 200 employees.
Last year, STV, Inc. completed a traffic study for the development, commissioned by the city and paid for by the developers. The study confirms that the two main intersections for entrance and exit from the development (Forest Drive/Crystal Spring Farm Road and Forest Drive/Spa Road) are already or will be at an F level of service (the worst rating possible) during rush hours. Overall, there would be nearly 1,500 more vehicle trips a day generated by Providence Point.
The study calls for several solid traffic improvements, but they left out one key improvement required by the City Comprehensive Plan— a parallel road from Skipper Lane behind the CVS to connect to the main road through the development at Crystal Spring. This would give senior residents and workers at Providence Point direct access to the Safeway, CVS, and restaurants and eliminate many trips on Forest Drive and Spa Road.
We have been unwavering in our position that the developers must include such a traffic-relief road in their development plans and make “an equitable contribution” to its costs as required in the Annexation Agreement, which was approved by the City Council in 1995 for any development at the site. The relief road is also included in the recommendations in the draft Forest Drive/Eastport Sector Study.
Currently, development plans for Providence Point are still far from city approval. The most recent formal filing was in January 2019. Almost a year later, they are still working with city planners to make major adjustments before they can refile. The January filings were so far off from meeting current basic environmental laws and requirements, it took Planning and Zoning until June 12 to complete just these environmental aspects of its legally mandated review.
This review resulted in five pages of single-spaced comments requiring major changes to the development proposal. Many of these changes will result in increases in the cost of the project while potentially eliminating some of the units for sale and downsizing other units.
The city is still working with the developers on other issues such as sewer hook-up and whether a new pumping station is needed, as well as some architectural concerns. Developers will not be filing a new plan until sometime next year. Any prospect for city approval is many months away.