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Construction starts soon

February 14, 2012

By Adriane Foss, APG Public Affairs Office

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - A longer commute to work could be the norm for Aberdeen Proving Ground motorists after the spring kickoff of a construction project that will widen and improve area roads.

To lessen the impact of the year-long project, APG officials are urging motorists to begin planning immediately.

"Now is the time for people to familiarize themselves with other routes, and other gates," said Charlie Eckert, acting chief of Engineering Services Division, Directorate of Public Works. "Just taking a few extra moments before or after work to drive the surrounding roads and discover where they link to the installation is going to be very useful when construction begins."

Other options to minimize gridlock include using mass transportation and carpools.

Sandy Schiller is the garrison's Mass Transit Benefit Program manager and provides vouchers up to $125 monthly to employees who get to work by bus, train or vanpool. Beginning in March, vanpool and train commuters will receive debit cards in the place of the vouchers/checks. Schiller said more than 350 employees at APG are taking advantage of the federal government reimbursement for a total cost of $150,000 per quarter, about $600,000 annually.

APG employees can contact Schiller's office, where they will begin the application process before they are referred to Harford County's Alan Doran, who coordinates the county's Commuter Assistance/Ride Share program within Harford County's Department of Community Services.

Ride Share links employees with their ideal modes of transportation. While employees are reimbursed for traveling by vanpool, bus or train, carpooling may be the ideal option for smaller groups who live close to one another and have similar work schedules.

Educating Harford County commuters about alternative modes of transportation is one of Doran's many responsibilities, but one that he takes seriously.

Doran said approximately 108,323 Harford County citizens, 16 years of age and older, travel to their place of work. Of this total, 104,768 travel to work by car, van or truck, with 89 percent traveling alone.

According to the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, a federally recognized metropolitan planning council, motor vehicles contribute nearly a third of the emissions that dirty our air.

Employees who choose not to take advantage of subsidized commuting often cite flexibility as a reason. Studies show that motorists nationwide often choose not to use mass transportation for fear of not having a vehicle at their disposal in case of an emergency or change of plans.

Doran said in the case of unexpected events, Ride Share participants can enroll in the Guaranteed Ride Home Program, which provides registered mass transit users, car poolers, vanpoolers, bikers and walking commuters a free ride home up to four times per year. This, he said, allows commuters with unscheduled overtime or emergencies peace of mind.

Ride Share is one of many programs and services the garrison promotes to assist personnel.

Installation Transportation Officer Nick D. Curcio manages the MARC train shuttle service that transports employees from the Aberdeen train station to select locations on post.

Curcio said the distance between the train station and APG work locations, and the fact that there are no sidewalks, made establishing a shuttle service the most practical option.

A shuttle departs the Aberdeen train station at 7:42 a.m. and delivers the last of the APG commuters to their work location by 8:14 a.m. Two shuttles rotate in the evening, transporting employees to the Aberdeen train station at 5:08 and 6:18 p.m.

"The garrison has been working with Harford County, the Maryland Transit Authority, Military Surface Deployment & Distribution Command, Federal Highway Administration and State Highway Administration for years to accommodate installation and community motorists," said Carroll Sparwasser, the coordinator for the garrison's Transportation Demand Working Group.

"And we will continue to look at ways to help employees commute to work, decrease the number
of single occupancy vehicles and reduce our environmental footprint," said Sparwasser, who is also APG's Environmental Management System management representative.

Environmental benefits are another reason Sparwasser encourages motorists to consider mass

"There are 23 vanpools currently commuting to APG," he said. "Multiply that times the approximate nine people in each pool and you get an idea of how many cars we're helping to take off the road. That is a significant reduction in traffic volume, air and noise pollution.

"Pooling reduces the use of fossil fuels and contamination going into the air; it promotes traffic safety and provides much needed parking spaces. And once the US 40/ MD 715 construction begins, the benefits will continue to multiply as motorists find themselves on the road longer."

Sparwasser said the Transportation Demand Working Group was created to help the post deal with the mounting vehicular traffic during BRAC. As commuter numbers continue to swell over the next decade, the group will continue to suggest alternatives and options.

The working group will hold its next quarterly meeting at 10 a.m. April 4, in Bldg. 4304 in the 3rd Floor conference room. Organizations are encouraged to send a representative.

"Come to the meeting for the latest information on the US 40/MD 715construction project," said Sparwasser. Reps can also offer suggestions on how to help reduce traffic."

Project Overview & Purpose:
The project will improve safety, capacity, and flow at the US 40 at MD 715 interchange for increased traffic volumes generated by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) initiative at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Work extends along:

US 40 from the Cranberry Run bridge east to the Walmart access road, including the MD 715 intersection. This portion of US 40 is a four-lane divided highway. MD 715 from the US 40 eastbound ramp to the APG gate. MD 715 is an undivided urban roadway.

Old Philadelphia Road from approximately 950 feet west of MD 715 to approximately 1,000 feet east of MD 715.

Traffic volumes are expected to increase by 42,500 vehicles per day on US 40; 32,100 vehicles per day on MD 715; and 13,500 vehicles per day on Old Philadelphia Road by 2032. Truck traffic along these roadways makes up a significant portion of this volume. The project improvements will allow the roadway and intersection to handle increased volumes in a safe and efficient manner.

Project Description: The US 40 at MD 715 Interchange Improvement project is divided into two phases:

Phase I -- from APG Gate to bridge over AMTRAK/MARC - Construction of the following improvements is nearly complete, and includes:

Widening MD 715 by one lane in each direction; Relocating the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) Visitors' Center Entrance; Constructing new stormwater management facilities; Upgrading highway signage, pavement markings, and lighting; and upgrading landscaping along the project corridor.

Phase II -- Bridge over AMTRAK/MARC to US 40 Interchange - SHA has finalized design of the following improvements:

Widening the MD 715 bridge over US 40 to provide additional traffic capacity; widening MD 715 to provide four lanes in each direction from the US 40 interchange to Old Philadelphia Road, and three lanes in each direction from Old Philadelphia Road to north of the APG gate; re-striping pavement on the MD 715 bridge over AMTRAK to create three lanes in each direction; relocating and widening the ramp from eastbound US 40 to southbound MD 715 to provide three lanes on the ramp and a new spur ramp to northbound MD 715; improving the MD 715/Old Philadelphia Road intersection and upgrading the traffic signal; Installing new traffic signals at the following locations: Southbound MD 715 to eastbound US 40; Spur ramp from eastbound US 40 to northbound MD 715 and the MD 715 intersection at Cirelli Court.

Project Schedule: Complete Final Design Winter/Spring 2012; Begin Phase II Construction Winter/Spring 2012; Open to Traffic Summer 2013.

Consider this:
1. Allow an additional 15--20 minutes travel time, once construction begins.

2. Before construction begins, drive area roads for alternate routes and become familiar with all APG gates.

3. Take the bus, train or vanpool and receive a $125 subsidy to cover commuting costs. Call the Mass Transit Benefit Program Office at 410-436-0230 for details.

4. Unable to take the bus, train or vanpool? Carpool. Harford County's Ride Share program links employees with carpoolers in your area. For more information, call Alan Doran at 410-638-3389.

5. Find out what your organizations policies are on compressed work schedule, telecommuting
and flexible work schedules.

6. Taking the train? Call the Garrison DOL Transportation Office at 410-278-2697 for information on the train shuttle.

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