Tracy O’Keefe said she refuses to shop at Wegmans in Frederick’s Clemson Corner Shopping Center on the weekends because the traffic into the popular grocery store is a nightmare she wants to avoid.
“I will grocery shop on weekdays,” said O’Keefe, of Walkersville. “We will potentially avoid it all together if the traffic gets really bad when Market Square is done. I won’t go there.”
Market Square is a mixed-use development that is under construction adjacent to the Clemson Corner Shopping Center, which opened last year with Wegmans, Lowe’s and Marshalls.
Both Market Square and Clemson Corner are at the corner of Md. 26 and Worman’s Mill Road in the City of Frederick. Md. 26 merges into Route 15 south, a heavily-traveled interstate in the northeastern portion of Frederick County.
The Wegmans opened in June 2011. Since, it has attracted shoppers not only from Frederick County, but upper Montgomery County and other states, including Pennsylvania.
Traffic along Md. 26 began to increase and has worsened since construction started on the 49-acre Market Square property this summer, according to residents.
“The Route 26 exit to 15 south is a nightmare; what were they thinking?” Deborah Culler, a resident of the nearby Worman’s Mill development, said in an email. “... I can only imagine the total gridlock when it is all said and done.”
Worman’s Mill is a residential development adjacent to Market Square and off Monocacy Boulevard and Md. 26.
City and Frederick County officials have hailed Clemson Corner and Market Square as a vibrant shopping and residential area that will bring new revenue and jobs to the area.
But for some motorists, the new development has brought traffic congestion that they see worsening as construction in Market Square continues.
“My only concern right now is the light at the intersection of 26 [and Worman’s Mills Road] is horrendously long from any direction,” Chris Forman of Worman’s Mill said in an email. “It should be sped up some. Sensors (or a shorter light) for off peak hours would help, too.”
The traffic on Md. 26 in both directions has increased “substantially” since the opening of the stores in Clemson Corner, Jacqueline Adams, a resident of Worman’s Mill since 1997, said in an email.“I travel from Frederick to Gaithersburg on a daily basis. While, in my opinion, the traffic on 26 is tolerable, I am deeply concerned that the city and county have not taken into consideration the additional growth in population and traffic [from Market Square].”
Market Square is slated to be a mix of housing, businesses and restaurants; McDonald’s and Bank of America are slated to open this month. The Sport & Health fitness club is scheduled to open in November.
The development will include 275 townhouses, 18 single-family homes and 179,000 square feet of restaurants and retail. Construction began in June.
Representatives from Market Square did not return telephone calls and emails by The Gazette’s deadline. The developer of the property is JBG Rosenfeld Retail of Chevy Chase.
Richard Griffin, director of the city’s economic development department, who has touted Market Square as great place in which to live and work, said road improvements will be made to handle the increase in traffic.
“Clearly the new development at Clemson Corner and Market Square is generating a lot of enthusiasm in terms of new retail and service businesses,” Griffin said in an email. “As part of any new development, the city requires traffic studies to be done and roadway or intersection improvements or contributions toward improvements. Both of these developments are making significant improvements.”
A new intersection at Md. 26 and Worman’s Mill Road, and a right-turn lane on westbound Md. 26 to Worman’s Mill Road, has been constructed.
The City of Frederick has approved all traffic impact studies the developer was required to conduct, said Devon C. Hahn, a city traffic engineer.
“The increase in traffic was to be expected with that development,” Hahn said.
The state also required the developer to complete traffic studies. In April, Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said the developer is required to build capacity improvements and turn lanes to improve traffic on Md. 26.
In an interview Tuesday, Gischlar said the Market Square developers also will make improvements at the intersection of Md. 26 and Monocacy Boulevard, which is the next intersection east of Worman’s Mill Road and Md. 26.
The improvements are necessary because Market Square eventually will include a new road linking Worman’s Mill Road with Monocacy Boulevard. The improvements include additional turn lanes.
Some Worman’s Mill residents worry that when the new road is built, traffic will only worsen.
Even so, one Worman’s Mill resident sees a positive to the new development.
“As I come down [Md.] 26 and through the light where I can turn right into Market Square or proceed to merge onto Route 15, there is a sign advising traffic to alternate to form a single lane,” said William Campbell, in an email. “I have noticed a definite maturing of drivers in learning to take turns rather than racing ahead and pulling into the left lane, which I found leads to back-ups more often than not. ... I applaud the drivers for learning this common courtesy.”