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Ducketts Lane School Construction Heightens Traffic Concerns

Community wants traffic signal, relief on road.

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  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 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  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 , 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 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:

  • 2012
  • 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
  • 2013
  • 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.”

BK March 14, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Please understand that this school is NOT about our children. This school represents the county’s ability to open up Elkridge to new building. Because the schools were overcrowded accoring to APFO, few building permits could be executed. This proves a dilema for the county because they look at building as one of their primary economic stabilizers. Within a week of announcing the final sale of this land to HOCO, the County Council approved 140 building permits (http://elkridge.patch.com/articles/county-council-opens-route-1-for-development ). By adopting a new APFO chart due to the building of Ducketts Lane, the County Council now will allow 3,326 units to be built in Howard County in 2014. Another 340 permits were approved in March (http://elkridge.patch.com/articles/more-apartments-coming-to-elkridge ). This ensures that the cycle of overcrowded schools will continue. Where do you think the majority of the 3300 units will be placed – Northeastern Howard County (Elkridge, Jessup, Laurel, Columbia and Ellicott City)? What happens when there is no more land to build schools? When is enough enough?
BK March 14, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I suspect that you are right that many people will be cutting through Hunt Club and the library to get to another light during construction.
BK March 14, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Until the boundary lines are drawn and approved this fall, there are no guarantees. It will depend on which group has the most political pull to ensure that their kids stay or go where they want them. At least that's the way it's happened historically.
Kim Dixon March 15, 2012 at 03:02 AM
No BK The county will take land from what's left of large land owners here, like my father for example 77 years old all he wanted was his home to live out his years in peace without a condo or town stuck up his butt, but now we have that no to mention folks think our land is some kind of park to trespass on because the county didn't leave any green space or parkland for them to have a little recreational place. Then top that off with increasing the property taxes that a retired person on a fixed income has to pay. I know the county's answer he would be better off in a home. Imminent domain is the answer.
Mike A. March 15, 2012 at 03:13 AM
A light at Ducketts will be needed, especially if the school is built. They can all be timed together to let traffic flow.
Mike A. March 15, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Those that come thru Hunt Club will now have to deal with the speed humps and the radar the police run in there.
Mike A. March 15, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Bauman road will stay open.... There is still some discussion as to whether it will exit onto Bauman or Montgomery Rd... I suspect it will be onto Montgomery Rd. The ramp proposed for 95 will be somewhere south of the Montgomery Rd. overpass (I assume the wooded area between montgomery Rd. and the curve on Bauman.}. It will have an electronic gate operated by the FD. That is as I said earlier, if approved by the State Highway Association
Mike A. March 15, 2012 at 03:21 AM
And that is why the Speed Humps are on Hunt Club Rd....
Jack March 15, 2012 at 05:39 AM
I refer a lot of articles about Elkridge to Howardpubliced. You people have got a lot of attention but you need to organize. You should form a citizens group and fight together. You are fighting business, money and politicians. It is sad to see American values under attack by some of the scum in the county. I wish you all well.
Adam R March 15, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Citizens of Duckett's Lane: I feel your pain, I have no doubt in the future the "Man" will get the idea to raze and erect new structures for Norbel School and the Firehouse,(probably at the same time), and this will cause us pain on Old Washington Blvd. I have the same feelings for you in your community. No matter how hard you voice your opinions the "Man" is going to tell you you are getting this great thing, so grin and bear it. As for your lack of traffic light, I pledge to you that if you do not have one by the time the new school opens we will get all 40,000 Elkridge Citizens to shut RT 1 down until Director of Public Works JIm Irvin himself personally digs the hole for the light poles and turns on the switch for a new light! There is no way HC is going to make the buses filled with Elementary Students stack up every morning trying to make a left turn from Rt 1 to get on Duckett's lane every school day.
Eric Furst March 15, 2012 at 11:06 AM
A few spare comments: 1) If, when construction starts or the school opens, this traffic nightmare is realized they can still put a light in. Not getting a light today does not mean we won't get it tomorrow when it is proven that we need it. 2) I take the left from Loudon to Rt 1 before going to my house on Ducketts every day. That light is 2:00 long if you catch it at the wrong time. I have never in my 3.5 years on Ducketts had to wait for 2:00 to make a left turn onto Rt 1 from Ducketts. Two minutes is forever - stare at your watch for two minutes, it's an eternity. A light will make the intersection safer. It will not make it faster. 3) I still have no idea how they're going to handle the ABF entrance if they stick a light at Ducketts. ABF trucks will not be able to make a right if traffic is stopped at the light. 4) I'm concerned about the dump trucks queuing in that little tiny left turn lane from Rt 1 to Ducketts. Three of them there will back up travel lanes. 5) I wish there was some way for me to bet against them finishing construction in August 2013, with like 2 weeks of slack before the start of school built into the schedule. Good luck to em...
Tammy B. March 15, 2012 at 11:13 AM
We shouldn't have to go out thru another neighborhood... if the people on route would do the speed limit people on Ducketts could get out properly without taking their lives in their hands!! Last time I checked the speed limit on Route 1 is 50 not 85!! You go thru another neighborhood day in and day out and see how you like it! The fact is that this school is being built due to PISS POOR PLANNING ON THE COUNTY'S PART- DUH!!!
Tammy B. March 15, 2012 at 11:26 AM
You do realize that making a left from a complete stop across traffic doing 80 miles an hour is not easy! My comment was to point out that the County does not know how to plan properly, if they did the lights would have been placed and timed in a manner to accommodate everyone traveling on Route 1! As for the center lane, again people have no choice... they can't get out any other way b/c the traffic on Route 1 is as fast as the traffic on 95! It's not Rocket Science.. the County should not make comments to the residents on Ducketts such as "a light is not needed"- REALLY!! They try to shove shit down our throats like we are stupid, they don't care about it b/c they are not the ones who are directly affected. If it were there neighborhood they would be fighting for what's right just like all of us...who have also lived on Ducketts for 25 years!
Heather March 15, 2012 at 01:02 PM
According to the Board of Education (who I contacted yesterday via email) this is what was said and I quote "Thank you for contacting the Board of Education. Elementary School #41 will be a neighborhood school, although the actual boundary lines have not been finalized yet. The Feasibility Study will be presented to the Board of Education on Thursday, June 14, 2012, and the presentation of the Attendance Area Adjustment Plan is scheduled for Thursday, October 18, 2012. Information regarding the entire process will be posted on the HCPSS website as it becomes available." so we should know before the end of the year whether our children in the neighborhood will be going to the new school.
Heather L. March 15, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I am all for a light at Ducketts that operates during the am and pm bus times. The rest of the time it can be a blinking yellow light.
Mike A. March 15, 2012 at 09:41 PM
I will believe it when I see it. Although a budget was passed in Annapolis today.. Not sure on school construction and didn't hear if the penshion shift happened or not. Just turned on the news. I will hold my breath and see.....
sarah March 16, 2012 at 03:07 AM
To tammy and mike- try pulling out of elkridge mobile home park or hunt club everyday! Those are the ones that are a pain in the ass and a hell of a lot worse than duckets but do you see me complaining about that
Tammy B. March 16, 2012 at 10:50 AM
Sarah... yes I'm sure it is a pain in the ass and it is your opinion that it is worse there, just like it's my opinion that we need a light at Ducketts... that's the great thing about this country and the Patch... we can ALL put our opinions out there, so you keep yours and I'll keep mine! No one person is right all of the time and you can't make everyone happy either... I just want to avoid coming home from work just to find a horrific accident involving children on a school bus. And how do you know your intersection is worse... the school buses haven't started coming yet and once they do... WE WILL NEED A LIGHT! I have never said a light is needed until now... I have lived here for 25 years and know not to ever make a left onto Route 1 and therefore have never felt a light necessary!
Tammy B. March 16, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Heather.. great idea! You might be onto something! That would solve most of the issues and keep everyone safe!
Mike A. March 16, 2012 at 11:01 AM
I live on Hunt Club and have no issues! I never feel the need to rush out into traffic. If I am in a hurry I go out of the other end and go to Montgomery Rd to the light.
Mike A. March 16, 2012 at 11:14 AM
When the school opens a light WILL be needed at Rt1 and Ducketts, as will a widening and lengthening of the turn lane from North Bound Rt1. The Board of Ed will need to pay the State for the installation and this should be a cost added to the construction of the school.
Mike A. March 16, 2012 at 11:15 AM
Do you live in Hunt Club?
BK March 16, 2012 at 12:04 PM
That's a great thought but the county keeps pushing it off on the state because Route 1 is a state road, not a county road. The state keeps hiding behind their "traffic study" that "shows" the volume of traffic is not high enough to warrant a light. I understand everyone is sick of the lights on Route 1 but this is what is necessary to keep people safe with the increased density that is being pushed on our side of the county. I was never a proponent of a light at Ducketts because I felt it would encourage people to use it as a cut through to the other side (Lyndwood) of Elkridge. BUT I would rather ensure the safety of children vs. inconvenience on Route 1. I really like the idea of having it a blinking light throughout most of the day and have a functional light during school drop off/pick up.
Tammy B. March 16, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Mike... I live on Ducketts and although my children are grown, I would hate to see an accident involving a bus and children. I should stand at that intersection in the morning and afternoon rush hour and take video of the backup and trouble folks have trying to get out. Part of the issue is that cars Fly down Route 1 and do not obey the speed limit, but what else is new right? It's the principle of the matter, that the county and state act like they are dealing with a bunch of idiots, but if we don't fight now, it will be twice as hard once the school opens. I hope the construction doesn't cause folks to cut thru your neighborhood and did anyone think about the fact that if we all have to go out the back.. what a nightmare it's going to be to get out of the Shopping Center... it's already difficult and will get worse as well.
Mike A. March 16, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Sorry Tammy, I was asking Sara if she lived in Hunt Club..
Mike A. March 16, 2012 at 08:54 PM
BK, Legally I do not think the county can put the light there it has to be the State. The County could pay for it however, and the State install it.
sarah March 17, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Mike- I live behind elkridge apartments but Iam in and out of hunt club daily and have to shoot across to get to south Hanover road and it's a pain. I wasn't trying to make any one mad about saying duckets doesnt need a light I guess Iam just tired I sitting at traffic lights :( I guess when the school is built there they will need a light but I also think the entrance should be changed a little
Mike A. March 17, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Agreed
Concerned Elkridgean June 21, 2012 at 07:55 PM
They are going to have to do something. The county and state have ignore the needs of the community infrastructure and will continue. It is amazing that Jim Irvin who is appointed the director of public works and has been reappointed by every Howard County Executive for years and makes $175,000 per year cannot figure out the problem nor can another appointed official Marsha MacLaughlin, Director of Planning and Zoning. Do you understand about the back door deals that have been going on for years and continue to do so at the expense of the residents. The land on Ducketts Lane was owned by the county then sold to a developer, Liparini. who in turn sold it back to the county for the new school after making a profit close to 300%. The county owned lots of land that in the past sold to developers and now it has no land for schools. From what I understand there is land being considered on Montevideo Rd for a future school, but alas there is still the possibility of the intermodal site. The county is corrupt not sticking to the data. There is land and the county should force developers like Blue Stream which is going to develop thousands of units to give up some land for a school(s) like in other counties. The problem with the Route 1 revitalization plan of pro development never forced accountability for the infrastructure. APFA (Adequate Public Facilities Act) does not address the issues.
Concerned Elkridgean June 21, 2012 at 08:05 PM
The developers can build after 4 years whether or not the schools can accommodate the students or the roads can handle the traffic. The scope of traffic studies are very limited. I wonder how the traffic to the slots at the mall and blue stream development is going to increase traffic as people look for a cut through. Unfortunately, there is no accountability, if our government does not do their job. No one will get fired. As far as the road and people driving better. Be realistic. Everybody makes mistakes driving. Likely, all drivers were taught defensive driving... and that what we must use unless the county/state takes the responsibility in making our roads safe! Where are all these smart people, we have working for Howard County. The planners are afraid to say anything because they can lose their jobs. I hope you add your voice to our community organization, GECA(Greater Elkridge Community Association) who fights hard for what we as citzens want. GECA has been fighting issues for years. Please have your voice heard and email the county council,board of ed, Ken Ulman and other county employees who jobs are dependent on our taxes. Remember they work for US!!!!

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