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Will the

Cause a Downtown Downturn?



Ninth Street Extended (truck route)

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"Oakland’s Mayor and Town Council must determine if moving forward with a bypass serves in the best interests of businesses, merchants, and the economy."

In this case, a Bypass is elective.

Oakland officials have requested a bypass, also called the Ninth Street Extended (truck route) that will circumvent the Heart of its Downtown district. The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) estimate $53.4 million (as of 2006) would be required for a bypass to reroute traffic around Garrett County’s seat which is home to the most concentrated commercial, office, retail, institutional, and government space in the county.

The proposed 2.4 miles of highway will divert traffic from the downtown area, lowering or eliminating the notice of passing traffic. Main arteries between more than 2,000 Mountain Lake Park residents and Downtown Oakland would would be bisected and create several new but uncertain intersections. The project has been deemed by state and local officials as the “number one planning and number one safety priority.”

Decades of private and public stewardship have preserved and revitalized the downtown district resulting in the restored B&O Train Station, bricked sidewalks, period lamp posts, The Transportation Museum, walking trails, murals, Veteran’s Park, and the Historic Society Facade and Gazebo.

Five committees, formed by the Greater Oakland Business Association, are now focused on bringing MORE traffic into Oakland, not less, to stimulate economic growth and commercial property values. Events like the vibrant Farmers Market and the Little Yough Music Festival fill downtown with excitement. Also, a new A&E District has just launched with state designation.

Download or share a three page document with key points and a bypass map.

MDOT Addresses Questions

The Mayor and Town Council of Mountain Lake Park hosted a public meeting on June 7, 2018 with MDOT to to ask questions about the proposed Oakland Bypass. Because the project is in it's planning stages and currently unfunded, many questions could not be answered at the meeting. Click below to see the submitted written questions and MDOT responses.

A compiled list was submitted by EMM President, Mark Stutzman on behalf of various contributors. MDOT addresses each contributor individually.

Actual Traffic Volume

An argument supporting bypass construction centers on alleviating traffic volume in Oakland. Decreases in traffic is occurring naturally, down 8.95% since 2007. A 2007 report mapped a total of 54,672 vehicle trips from 5 locations entering and leaving Oakland. The same locations reported 47,745 trips in 2015. The decline was 6,927 total trips. The percent of trucks mapped in 2017 were 4.24% single units and 1.07% combination units. Combination units have a separate rig and cargo. Vehicle Classifications See below for an interactive map link.

Cost to Oakland?

According to SHA's Project Manager, once the bypass is completed, 3rd & Oak Streets will be down-graded to a local road and no longer be maintained by SHA. Pavement upkeep, sidewalks, and snow removal will become a significant financial burden to Oakland. SHA's Public Affairs representative disagrees. This issue is unresolved.


Area residents can expect traffic disruptions while the bypass construction is underway. It could take years to complete depending on weather and unexpected delays.

A bypass won't...

Logging, single-axle and commercial tractor trailers will still require local roads for deliveries in the downtown area. Traffic entering  3rd Street from points west will not be diverted by a bypass.

Vehicle Classifications

Traffic Safety

An intersection traffic safety study in Oakland initiated by the State Highway Administration (SHA) from 2011 through 2013 noted there were just 18 accidents at six separate intersections. Two involved pedestrians with one of those attributed to a failure to yield right-of-way. One incident involved a truck at 9th & Oak St. with the cause unknown.

Potential Negative Economic Impacts

The Oakland Bypass or Ninth Street Extended (truck route) has been revisited many times since the 1970s. Each time it has failed approval until 2007. SHA and MDOT have designated $1 million for a new design study with hopes of lowering the cost and justifying the expense of a new bypass. Additional funding will be required for an updated environmental impact study as well.


Route 219 Truck Route

The Deep Creek Lake area may see drastic increases in commercial truck traffic if a bypass is completed and utilized by north-south travelers. With the Mayor and Town Council renaming the project a "truck route" it increases the potential for commercial traffic or private GPS navigations to select Route 219 (with the bypass) as the preferred, faster road. The northern part of Route 219 through McHenry would become a designated truck route as well. It is already the most congested roadway through the county during peak tourist seasons. Conversely, downtown Oakland will be off the new bypass (truck route) and viewed as an inconvenient detour  or hidden from motorists who are passing through. Oakland and Mountain Lake Park residents located near the bypass, which is currently quiet neighborhoods and farmland, will experience a dramatic increase in truck traffic, noise, and diesel pollution.

Economic Analysis

From the United States Department of Transportation;

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Journal of Transportation & Statistics

The Impacts of Bypasses on Small and Medium-Sized Communities:

To make well-informed decisions on constructing relief routes, impact studies are needed. Per capita sales in four different industrial sectors were identified as indicators of the local economy. The industrial sectors are total retail that primarily sell merchandise for personal or household consumption, gasoline service stations, eating and drinking establishments, and service industries such as, lodging, repairs, health, amusement, legal, and technical to individuals, businesses, government establishments, and other organizations.


"The models developed indicate that the draw in traffic from the old to the relief route has a significant negative impact on the sales in the different industrial sectors."


"... transportation planners and cities should carefully consider proposals for relief routes, in order to determine if a bypass is in fact desirable and socially beneficial. Certain sectors of the economy, like gasoline service stations and eating and drinking establishments, could be critically impacted depending on the magnitude of traffic diverted." See Entire Document

Small Town Impacts

Studies show that towns with populations under 3,000 often suffer economic downturns following construction of a bypass, leaching desired traffic volume from previously traveled commercial routes. Examples of alternate route impacts include Cumberland and Hancock in Maryland and Hopwood in Pennsylvania. Oakland’s 2017 population was 1,925 which would qualify it as a community vulnerable to bypass impacts.


Residential Mix

Thriving commercial districts with shopping and service businesses rely on steady traffic flow. Residential and  commercial mixed routes should expect and support steady traffic as a sign of their community’s economic vitality. Commercial investments along 3rd and Oak streets capitalize on customer access convenience. Ensuring storefronts remain occupied is essential to living within a safe, well-maintained, and vibrant community.

Groundwork for Success

Oakland‘s management is not responsible for individual business success, however, they are expected to generate and maintain infrastructure that is commercial and consumer-friendly. Stifling or diverting traffic from the downtown shopping district would contradict merchant needs and discourage future interest. It's important that investors see Oakland as prime real estate in the county. Vehicular and foot traffic are crucial components when choosing commercial space to invest in or to lease.

Funding or Planning

The bypass may be viewed as an opportunity for economic growth. After all, it is a multi-million-dollar project. However, economic activity is often redistributed from downtown areas toward a new bypass to capture realigned traffic patterns. Relocations can initiate vacancy and blight to valuable, existing historic downtown buildings, while new national chain stores seize opportunity near a bypass. Franchise profits usually export to corporate owners outside the communities they serve. As example; Businesses located along 3rd Street that experience the most traffic, enjoy the most success as a result.

Economic Development

"The role of the Oakland Economic Restructuring/Vitality Committee should be to assist businesses in preparing for less traffic by increasing marketing efforts to attract potential customers off of the bypass in hopes of keeping these businesses in the downtown."

This statement was shared by Maryland MainStreet in response to the proposed Oakland Bypass.

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Interractive Traffic Map

Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and State Highway Administration (SHA) have an online, interactive map that allows you to zoom in and see details of specific traffic monitored sites.

The map opens to a full, state view. Zoom toward Garrett County and then toward Oakland. A series of dots will mark locations that you can click on to see details such as type of vehicle and volumes recorded.

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