During a meeting about the start of construction for an elementary school on Ducketts Lane, residents told Howard County school officials they had one major concern.
“The reason we are here is because of traffic,” said David Kilpatrick, who lives on Ducketts Lane and joined approximately 50 other residents at the community meeting held at Bellows Spring Elementary School on Monday night.
Residents said that even without a new school adding to traffic, Ducketts Lane is a challenge for drivers.
“When I leave my house at 7 a.m., I frequently am behind eight or nine cars waiting to make that right onto Route 1, let alone trying to make a left,” said Susan Pennington, who lives off Ducketts Lane.
Project officials said that the traffic light many residents had hoped would accompany the elementary school was not in the cards.
On Feb. 9, the State Highway Administration issued a recommendation based on traffic counts submitted by the county that there was no need for a traffic signal on Route 1 at Ducketts Lane.
Instead, the county said it would put an additional right turn lane on Ducketts Lane to Route 1.
Director of Facilities for the Howard County Public School System Ken Roey suggested that residents take Ducketts Lane to Bauman Drive to Montgomery Road if they needed to leave the neighborhood during construction.
“Is it unreasonable for you to go around to Montgomery Road?” asked Roey.
The room erupted in a collective "Yes!"
“We’re going to be working around it for 18 months,” said Lori Hatfield, who lives off Ducketts Lane.
“I’m really concerned because there is talk of losing Bauman,” she added.
The fire department, which plans to build a new firehouse on Montgomery Road at Bauman Drive, mentioned last year that it may explore options such as creating an additional exit onto I-95. Residents have speculated the department would close off Bauman Drive, although Howard County’s director of public works said the fire department won’t work on engineering until the fall.
“I think that should be addressed,” Hatfield said.
Traffic studies commissioned by the school system did not take the closure of Bauman Drive into account. However, they did consider the possible development of the fire station and Troy Park, a proposed tennis stadium.
Still, project leaders told the community that traffic counts showed the intersection at Route 1 and Ducketts Lane was capable of handling current and future traffic.
One resident asked how the construction project could start when there was still water main work going on along Ducketts Lane.
"The Ducketts Lane work is complete," said Jim Irvin, director of public works for Howard County, in an email to Elkridge Patch on March 13. "What is remaining will occur in the Marble Hills subdivision. This effort is scheduled to be finished by October."
Work on the school will begin March 26, with a silt fence installation to prevent runoff, said Jan Sadowski, whose company, Dustin Construction, is handling the development. At the meeting on Monday, he outlined the process as follows:
- Mach 26–April 2: Sediment control
- April 2–9: Stormwater tract construction
- April 9–19: Grading
- April 20–June 25: Filling-in site with 32,000 cubic feet of dirt
- June 26–Aug. 8: Putting in footings, filling 31,000 cubic feet of dirt
- August: Digging begins for geothermal heating system installation
- Aug. 16: Masonry work begins
- Aug. 23: Plumbing work begins
- Sept. 18: Road widening will begin on Ducketts Lane
- Sept. 23: First piece of steel goes in to the building
- Oct. 28: Laying of base asphalt on Ducketts Lane
- Jan. 16: Last piece of steel goes in for building construction
- Jan.–Aug.: Interior work
- Aug. 19: Project complete
During construction, Sadowski said there would be 10 trucks running at all times. Work will be ongoing six days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sadowski added that there will be a wash station on the premises so that truck tires don't track dirt onto Ducketts Lane.
Residents said they were not satisfied with the plan.
"I think I speak for the community when I say the community is still not happy with it," said one woman at the conclusion of the meeting.
Roey said that there were two approaches he could take in responding to the community's concerns.
“The political answer is ‘We’re going to work with you,’” said Roey. “But the real answer is, we’re building a school ... At the end of this, it will beautiful school that hopefully everyone will love, but for the next 18 months or so, it is a construction project.”