The State Highway Administration (SHA) has denied the Bel Air Walmart access to Route 924 for its main entrance, citing traffic impacts as the main reason for the rejection.
“The traffic report determined that the proposed development would negatively impact several intersections surrounding the site,” SHA Development Manager Stephen D. Foster wrote in a letter to Harford County Planning and Zoning.
The SHA letter also denied Walmart’s request to install a traffic light at the intersection of Route 924 and Bright Oaks Drive.
The construction of the Walmart in Bel Air has been a highly contested issue among area residents who say instead of building a new location, Walmart should expand the already existing location in Abingdon. Bel Air residents have organized protests and rallies to express their opposition, which have been very well attended.
In the letter, the SHA cited traffic issues as one of the main reasons the requests were denied.
“The basis for the decision is that the County roadways provide ample opportunity for access to the local roadway network with appropriate roadway improvements on the County and State roadways to mitigate development-generated traffic impacts,” the letter read. “While the developer may desire an access on MD 924 to improve marketability, the addition of a MD 924 access does not provide a substantial transportation benefit to the overall roadway network.”
The SHA purposed a number of suggested improvements that they say would not put as strong of a hindrance on traffic in the area, but still said they weren’t sure Walmart’s plan was possible.
“The feasibility and ability for the developed to design and construct all proposed roadway improvements remains unclear,” the letter read. “The proposed improvements must be consistent with the SHA policies, standards and practices.
“There are not sufficient design details for any improvements for SHA to definitively comment on the proposed improvements. The SHA require more detailed engineering plans to examine the feasibility of all roadway improvements.”
The entirety of the SHA’s letter can be viewed above.