Proposed Prince George's County hospital sites face traffic challenges

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Local,Maryland,Matt Connolly,Prince Georges County,Metro and Traffic

Good news for fans of heart attack-inducing Redskins football -- the four potential sites for Prince George's County's new hospital are all within two miles of FedEx Field.

That could be bad news for county residents, who worry about getting to the hospital on game day with 80,000 fans pouring into the stadium and clogging the roads.

The county is looking to build its $650 million medical center at Landover Mall, Woodmore Town Centre, Largo Town Center or Morgan Boulevard. While the sites differ in terms of transit access, all would pose game-day traffic challenges by the hospital's 2017 opening.

"The stadium's a bull's-eye right in the middle of the thing," said David Iannucci, a member of County Executive Rushern Baker's economic development team. "It's definitely a factor."

The issue came up multiple times during the county's community hearing on the center, in which more than 350 residents packed the Prince George's County Sports and Learning Complex to voice their opinions on where the hospital should go.

"I don't know if you've ever been around that area on game day, but it's a mess," said Reba Watkins, a Cheverly resident. "I don't want to be stuck on some shuttle if there's an emergency."

Watkins added that she supported the Largo Town Center site, where the Metro station and better pedestrian access could help mitigate the problem slightly.

"I have to go to Bethesda or D.C. for convenient care," she said. "It's easier for me to just get on the Metro."

Largo Town Center seemed to be the favorite, with residents and smart growth advocates praising its Metro access and Iannucci calling it the "clear winner of the straw poll."

To settle there, though, the county would likey have to strike a deal with private landowners.

Multiple residents also spoke out in favor of Landover Mall, which was torn down in 2002 and is vacant. While the site is at the intersection of Route 202 and the Capital Beltway, it's more than a mile from the nearest Metro station.

"Landover Mall has been an eyesore for years now," said Stephanie Anderson, president of the Royal Gardens Civic Association. "You don't have to be at a Metro, you just need to be near a Metro."

Much of the site is owned by real estate business and Washington Nationals owner Lerner Enterprises. The county would have to negotiate with Lerner to build there.

Officials said no site has been selected and that those who own property on the sites will be contacted in the coming months to gauge their interest in selling.

Since the new hospital would be a part of the University of Maryland Medical System, the location won't be official until the university files a certificate of need with the state government in the fall. The county could announce a choice as soon as the summer, said Iannucci, though the timing depends on the planning process.

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

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Matt Connolly

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner