National Parks Conservation Association Says Harpers Ferry Developers' Traffic Study Flawed

Date:   June 7, 2007
Contact:   Joy Oakes, NPCA, 202.223.6722, ext. 260
Erin St. John, NPCA, 304.250.7833

National Parks Conservation Association Says Harpers Ferry Developers' Traffic Study Flawed

New Analysis Reveals Proposed Development Outside of Harpers Ferry National Park Will Cause Horrendous Traffic

Fayetteville – The nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association today released an analysis of the traffic that would be generated by an enormous proposed development adjacent to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in Jefferson County, West Virginia. Owners of the Old Standard Quarry, located on approximately 411 acres on the Shenandoah River, have requested that Jefferson County rezone their property to allow  construction of 2 million square feet of commercial, office, and flex space.

“The Old Standard Quarry development would create a traffic nightmare in the heart of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, a premier tourist attraction for the region,” said National Parks Conservation Association Senior Regional Director Joy Oakes. “Jefferson County should reject the petition for rezoning on the basis of traffic impacts alone. It makes no sense to allow 13 Wal-Mart’s worth of commercial space so close to the scenic gateway to Jefferson County.”

The developers of the Old Standard Quarry site completed a traffic study as part of their petition for rezoning. However, the National Parks Conservation Association has reviewed this study and found numerous flaws and errors that dramatically understate the impact of traffic generated by the potential development. In particular, the developer’s study 1) based the analysis on uncharacteristically low traffic counts; 2) modeled traffic generated by two large buildings, rather than from the approximately 16 buildings shown in concept plans; 3) failed to account for traffic generated by the entire development; and 4) failed to follow other standard industry practices, including apparently omitting counted trucks from the baseline analysis, among other flaws.

“Using the same methodology as the developers’ initial study, we recalculated the traffic impacts of 2 million square feet of business space, which is what has been proposed, instead of the 1.365 million square feet that was the subject of the developers’ flawed study,” said Oakes. “Our analysis shows 7,000 more new trips than the developers’ study. Traffic jams around Harpers Ferry could reduce visitation and harm the tourism-based economy that park visitors now support.”

The National Parks Conservation Association’s analysis, prepared by Smart Mobility, a transportation consulting firm, revealed that the proposed development would create 23,374 new “daily trips,”—additional cars on the road—in contrast to the 16,227 new daily trips as reported in the developers’ flawed study, “Old Standard LLC Quarry Traffic Impact Study.” This study had been prepared in January 2007 by Greenhorne & O’Mara, Consulting Engineers for Old Standard LLC. Moreover, the developers’ study focuses solely on the four-lane section of US 340 and ignores the traffic impacts of the proposed project on the two-lane section of US 340 immediately to the East of the development, even though the study assumes that 40 percent of the workers at the Old Standard Quarry development would be coming from East of Harpers Ferry.

“The developers’ flawed study says that overall traffic volume at morning and evening rush hours on US 340 at Harpers Ferry would nearly double between 2006 and 2011 as a result of their proposed development, with travelers sitting in long stop-and-go lines,” said Oakes. “But flaws in the study make bad traffic appear better than the reality would be if this ill-advised proposal is approved.”

The developers have also touted plans to pay for a stoplight at Route 27, also known as Millville Road.“Putting a stoplight at Millville Road at the bottom of the steep hill on US 340 would be suicidal,” said Bob Hardy, Mayor Pro Tem of Bolivar. Mayor Hardy was one of many speakers at a county Planning Commission meeting earlier this week that expressed concerns about traffic safety, congestion, and other impacts from the development.

The Jefferson County Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposed development on June 12, at 7 p.m., at the Charles Town Public Library, 200 East Washington Street, Charles Town, West Virginia.

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