Hampstead Bypass Idling But Not Stalled

October 28, 1990|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

The state doesn't have the money now to build a Hampstead bypass previously slated for construction in 1992, but the project has not been shelved, Maryland's transportation secretary assured anxious Carroll officials.

In their annual pitch to state Department of Transportation representatives Thursday, county and municipal officials urged accelerated planning and construction of several bypasses to relieve congestion on major highways and bolster economic development.

The Route 30 bypass around Hampstead, the project closest to fruition, tops the county's list, but not the state's.

"We've stretched out right of way acquisition for the Hampstead bypass," said DOT Secretary Richard Trainor. "But our priorities haven't changed, and our commitment to buy the right of way and build the bypass is still there."

Design and engineering for the planned 5.8-mile, $40 million project is continuing, Trainor said. If more money becomes available in the 1991 General Assembly, construction could soon follow. Land needed for the project won't be difficult to acquire, he said.

The transportation budget is restricted because revenues from the federal government and the state gas tax have declined, said DOT officials.

The Persian Gulf crisis also will hinder the department's capital program, they said.

The six-year capital program introduced by the department last year targeted $10.9 million toward land acquisition for the Hampstead bypass through fiscal 1993. The updated, more-cautious, projections earmark $3 million through fiscal 1996.

Municipal officials from Westminster, Taneytown and New Windsor urged the department to step up planning for bypasses in their areas.

Carroll's Department of Economic and Community Development Director James C. Threatte said uncertainty over the Hampstead project would discourage businesses from moving to a nearby 400-acre industrial park.

County Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said economic development has been "hamstrung" by inadequate roads and charged that the state has neglected Carroll for years in favor of other jurisdictions.

"We can't continue to tell our citizens they have to pay higher taxes when they're not getting anything in return," she said.

Trainor responded that at least 21 of Maryland's 23 counties "feel they're not getting their fair share. It's a very difficult time for money."

Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown asked that planning be accelerated for a bypass of Route 140, calling the portion near the city the worst "bottleneck" in the county. State and county officials have disagreed in the past over whether a bypass is needed. The only money earmarked in the 6-year program is $20,000 for planning in fiscal 1992.

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