Update on COVID-19 Pandemic Procedures – Traffic Counts Allowed

AvatarElizabeth Rogers, Attorney

The Montgomery County Planning Department has adopted a new Traffic Count Data Collection Policy that will allow certain projects that have been stalled, as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, to move forward.

Traffic counts are typically not allowed to be taken during periods of school closure. As such, when the State of Maryland entered a State of Emergency on March 14, 2020, the Montgomery County Planning Department stopped accepting any transportation impact studies using traffic counts taken on or after that date. Recognizing the impact this would have on development applications, the Planning Department issued an interim policy on May 7, 2020 that allowed transportation impact studies to be based on historical traffic counts (i.e. taken within the last 3 years), subject to a growth factor. While this has allowed many projects to move forward, certain applications, in areas of the County where there are no recent traffic counts available, have been stalled in the process. Given that schools remain closed, to address the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic and ensure that all development applications can advance through the necessary entitlement processes, the Planning Department has issued a new policy that will allow traffic counts to resume, subject to certain requirements.

Under the new policy, traffic counts taken after October 1, 2020 will be accepted. A growth adjustment factor must be applied to these counts until Montgomery County Public Schools reopen for full in-person instruction. This option is only available while the County remains in Phase 2 (or if the County advances to Phase 3) of the COVID-19 recovery. Alternatively, where historical traffic counts are available from the past three years, projects may still continue to use the use that historical data, with the adjusted growth factor, as has been allowed since May.