A month and change ago, we looked over the large tract review application for the planned Walmart up on Georgia Avenue, and speculated that the traffic impact could be the one thing to hold the development back. Turns out that was correct: The District Department of Transportation says Walmart’s traffic study—which forecasted no serious problems that minor signal changes wouldn’t fix—is woefully inadequate, and recommends that the review process stop while they sort things out.

Not only did the Gorove/Slade traffic team make errors in things like signal timing, DDOT says. They also failed to include all requested data, didn’t analyze capacity of nearby buslines to handle a projected increase in traffic, and didn’t talk about necessary pedestrian safety improvements.

Interestingly, the DDOT analysis also took issue with the Institute of Transportation Engineers land use code that Gorove/Slade had used to estimate trip generation for the store. The category, 813, was specifically created to apply to single use Walmart stores with grocery components, and has been accepted in several northeastern states. But DDOT said it “does not show a strong enough relationship between the size of the development and the trips generated in an urban context.” Despite its talk about adapting a suburban format for cities, Walmart seems to have used the same traffic assumptions that it would use anywhere else.

Which doesn’t mean that Walmart and Foulger Pratt won’t get their act together and submit a more complete traffic study, most likely requiring greater mitigation strategies. But it does look like they’ll take a little longer to do it.
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