The City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County in Maryland have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will formalize an arrangement to minimize gridlock on Forest Drive, one of the state’s most congested corridors.
The partnership aims to alleviate traffic problems on Forest Drive during an accident, monitor travel demand, and overall help to better control development along the corridor. Some of the new procedures the city-county partnership will introduce include the deployment of ‘smart boards’, new portable variable message signs (VMS) and drone technology.
Forest Drive is a major traffic route that serves most of Annapolis, and is also the major traffic artery serving communities outside the city on the lower Neck Peninsula, linking them with US 50 to the north, and on toward I-97. Under the MOU, the city and county will share information on land use, traffic patterns, transit usage and other transportation issues, in order to develop new solutions for the corridor.
The Annapolis Police Department will be using two drones during comprehensive accident investigations, helping to substantially limit the time a traditional investigation takes, opening up the roadway faster, and minimizing gridlock. Currently, crash investigations require police officers to work in the road, taking measurements, photographing the scene, marking evidence and studying damage. The drones will be operated by trained officers and flown over the accident scene to take photos and provide measurements, with the data then sent to the police department for analysis. Crash investigation officers will be trained to use the drones over the coming weeks.
As another part of the partnership, a Traffic/Land Use planning work group between the county and city has been formed, which will involve staff working together to use real-time traffic data to address all projects in the Forest Drive, Eastport and Annapolis Neck Peninsula area. The city has already started its Forest Drive/Eastport Sector Study to propose land use solutions that encourage the transformation and redevelopment of key sections of the corridor.
The city and county are working together to implement technical solutions to the traffic flow problems, and improve vehicular movement along the corridor, including the installation of additional traffic monitoring cameras and adjustment of existing units to more accurately study live conditions and provide faster response to problems.
“This is not just a one-two punch when addressing these long-standing issues on Forest Drive,” noted Mayor Michael Pantelides. “This is a full-court press to create new methods and implement new procedures.”