TAKOMA PARK — With the vote to approve the Takoma Junction Redevelopment site plan approaching on July 25, the City Council continues to resolve questions regarding the project.
After the unveiling of the site plan in April, traffic studies associated with the project were released in June, analyzing potential traffic changes the project could have on the surrounding area.
“Some of the main takeaways from the two traffic studies are that with the recent changes to the timing of the traffic signals at the junction area intersections, the traffic level is just barely acceptable by county traffic standards,” said City Manager Suzanne Ludlow during the Wednesday evening meeting.
Ludlow explained that Montgomery County traffic standards require signalized intersections to have delays of less than 80 seconds.
She added that the two studies, done by A. Morton Thomas for the city and The Traffic Group for the County, indicate that the intersection at Grant, Carroll, and Ethan Allen Avenues would exceed the 80-second delay with a substantial reconfiguration.
Council member Cindy Dyballa (Ward 2) raised the issue of who would pay for any potential reconfiguration of the intersection.
Mayor Kate Stewart said she had received assurances from Maryland State Highway Administrator Gregory Slater that the state will look into funding improvements to the intersection because it is a “preexisting condition” that cannot be alleviated with “Band-Aid fixes.”
Relating to the financing of traffic improvements, Council member Jarrett Smith (Ward 5) asked if the city could implement a tax-increment financing program, commonly known as a TIF, to fund traffic improvements.
Under Maryland’s Tax Increment Finance Act, municipalities can implement a tax-increment financing program, which would allow the city to subsidize economic development using anticipated tax revenue for industrial, commercial or residential areas and infrastructure projects.
Smith suggested the City Council bring up the issue once a new County Council and County Executive are in office.
Stewart also raised the issue of “limiting the ability” of large delivery trucks to drive on residential streets.
Council member Talisha Searcy added that she would like to see traffic solutions consider the city as a whole, as opposed to being limited to Takoma Junction.