|Westbound evening rush hour traffic on|
River Road is now regularly backed-up to
the Kenwood Club from the Beltway - or
even further, as it was last night
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
When rubber meets the road, Regency Centers' Westbard traffic report proven fake
Imagine how long it will take to reach the Beltway or downtown Washington once the Westbard sector plan is completely built-out. Regency's traffic study does, and proclaims there will be no problem at all. Full build-out of Regency's development "will not result in any of the study intersections operating in excess of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Policy Area congestion standard thresholds of 1600 [Critical Lane Volume (CLV)," the report declares.
Just one problem - those River Road intersections are already failing. The lights at Ridgefield Road and Little Falls Parkway are two of longest in the County. Adding the 774 new people at Regency Centers' Westbard properties, and a grand total of around 3000 new residents at full sector plan build-out, will create full-blown carmageddon.
The flaws in the report are many. It claims that Regency's full build-out will generate 618 new peak morning hour vehicle trips, and 968 evening peak hour trips. But those numbers don't even accurately represent the new residential traffic from the Regency development, much less even begin to count the auto trips generated by the retail and restaurant on the sites.
And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, "the rest of the story." The actual number of new vehicles belonging to residents in the 516 total units at the Regency development at full build-out will be 980, using the conservative Great Recession-era U.S. Census number of 1.9 cars per household. As the survey of Westbard area residents conducted a decade ago revealed, 93% of residents travel by automobile. So the total number of trips generated will actually be 911 in both the morning and evening.
Now, add 911 to the 1032 new vehicle trips that will be generated by other projects in the pipeline (which the report does mention). Then add the 3000 new AM and PM trips to and from the Intelligence Community Campus - Bethesda on Sangamore Road. You now have a whopping 4943 additional vehicles hitting the roads in both the morning and evening. And you haven't even begun to count the people who will be going to Giant, Chipotle, the chain salad shop, and all of the other Regency Centers retail morning and night.
The traffic study report also paints a highly-inaccurate picture of the transit situation at Westbard. While it lists the handful of bus routes that exist, it does not mention their very limited operating schedules and lengthy headways. Such limitations, as well as the two-mile distance from the closest Metro station, are among the reasons less than 7% of Westbard-area residents commute by transit.
No wonder the Maryland State Highway Administration official who attended the Development Review Committee meeting on the project in 2016 was incredulous that no projects to increase capacity on River Road had been proposed. His reaction to the new traffic study would likely be similar. "No off-site road improvements are required," it concludes.
Is that true? As someone who spent 40 minutes just to reach the Beltway on River Road last evening, I can confirm: "Hell, no."