SNOW HILL – Work on a massive northern Worcester County traffic study intended to predict the county’s traffic future will begin soon, said staff this week.
On Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners awarded the work to Columbia, Md.’s RBA Group, which offers both traffic and land planning services. The work will cost roughly $94,000.
According to County Commissioner Judy Boggs, the county saved up for the study, putting aside money over the last few years.
Two years ago, the county had a study done of traffic in West Ocean City, but according to Comprehensive Planning Director Sandy Coyman, that information is stale and limited in scope.
As a tourist destination, with a growing year-round population, transportation will be a major issue in the future, he said.
The study will scrutinize all of northern Worcester County from Newark north.
“We want to take a more comprehensive look at the entire northern end of the county,” Coyman said.
RMB Group will consider traffic counts, levels of service at intersections, and potential solutions to poor service.
“They’re going to look at mass transit options and bicycles and see how that fits in our future,” said Coyman.
The commissioners approved the bid award with little discussion.
“We plan on moving forward aggressively,” Coyman said Tuesday. “We want to send out the notice to proceed this afternoon or within a day.”
The county’s transportation options are limited by geography. Waterways, requiring bridges, bays and wetlands mean that the county has to utilize current roads better.
“We don’t have a whole lot of options for bypasses and additional roadways,” Coyman said. “Adding new roads is not really a solution we see. We want to maximize capacity.”
Mass transit has its difficulties in Worcester County, with long distance punctuated by a scattered population, but as growth is encouraged to concentrate, buses may make a real difference with traffic levels. The study will look at ways to make this happen.
“When you have higher densities, you have a market for mass transit,” Coyman said.
According to Coyman, the shift to a $1 ride all day system in Ocean City had a significant effect on resort traffic when that change was made.
“We’ll be working with the town of Ocean City staff, and invite Berlin to participate, and the folks from Ocean Pines,” Coyman said.