Prince George’s County’s planning department is in the early stages of creating a new sector plan for the city of Greenbelt, called the Greenbelt Metro Area and MD 193 Corridor Sector Plan. The goal of the sector plan is to guide transit-oriented development around the Greenbelt Metro Station and commercial revitalization and pedestrian-oriented improvements along the MD 193 (Greenbelt Road) corridor. The last sector plan for Greenbelt was completed back in 2001, before Prince George’s County released a few key publications concerning growth and development: the General Plan (2002), the Countywide Green Infrastructure Plan (2005), and the Countywide Master Plan of Transportation (2009). The county is looking to incorporate these more recent publications into a new sector plan for Greenbelt. It hopes to have a preliminary plan ready by this fall.
This plan is important to College Park because it will guide development in an adjacent city that attracts many of College Park’s residents. Yesterday, a presentation of existing transportation conditions was led by project manager Chad Williams at Greenbelt Middle School. Transportation in Greenbelt is certainly a relevant issue; the city is also strongly connected to the Beltway and has a metro station that a significant portion of College Park residents use regularly.
The presentation focused mainly on existing car traffic conditions, describing current levels of congestion on key roads within the sector plan area. These roads include the Beltway, Baltimore-Washington Parkway, Kenilworth Avenue, Greenbelt Road, Cherrywood Lane, and Hanover Parkway. Levels of service (LOS) ranging from A to F for peak hours were discussed, and it was explained that a LOS D is really not much “worse” than a LOS A, because traffic can move freely for the A, B,C, and D levels. The Beltway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway had the lowest level of service (E), although I was surprised it wasn’t even lower.
The presentation also discussed who uses the Greenbelt Metro Station, with the data coming from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA). It was found that about 69% of users drive to the station, with a large majority coming from origins 5 to 20 miles away, typically north and west of the station. A low but significant percentage come from 30 miles away or farther. This data was based on the home address of users’ Smart Trip Cards, and a couple of audience members noted that this source may not correspond well to where the users actually came from. Nonetheless, given that a lot of traffic entering the Greenbelt station can typically be seen coming from I-95 north of the Beltway, this data seems at least reasonably accurate.
Bus routes were discussed briefly with a map that showed all the bus routes (including 2 UM shuttle routes) in the sector plan area. Audience members noted that the map failed to indicate the quality of service that these routes provide. A lot of members were not satisfied with the weekend bus service and hope that it can be expanded.
Audience members requested that a study of pedestrian and bicycle LOS be attempted for several intersections, and the presenter responded that some data has been collected for this during peak periods. I hope that data can be presented at some point; it could be valuable in helping to expand Greenbelt’s bike and pedestrian traffic while taking some cars off the road. Greenbelt is considering a bike sharing program, which could potentially fit well next to College Park’s planned program.
A PowerPoint presentation of this event should be available next week on the sector plan website.