State Could Defer 12 Road Projects In County

March 31, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

ANNAPOLIS — The state Department of Transportation could defer $18.8 million in financing for 12 Carroll road projects next year -- including the long-delayed Hampstead bypass -- if the legislature does not increase transportation revenue.

The proposed 5 percent gas tax increase already has been rejected for this year. Motor vehicle fee increases thatcould raise about $42 million and allow DOT to retain some federal aid are still alive.

DOT outlined last week $1.2 billion in transportation projects that would be put on hold. The agency -- which has a projected six-year, $600 million deficit -- has no construction money, said Secretary O. James Lighthizer.

Revenue from gas tax and title fees are short of projections and federal aid has declined, precipitating the deficit. DOT could lose up to $420 million in federal aid because the statehas no matching money, says the agency.

The deficit could force deferral of $5.4 million in fiscal 1992 for Carroll road expansions --$2.5 million for land acquisition for a Route 30 Hampstead bypass; $600,000 for land acquisition for a Route 140 Taneytown bypass; and $2.2 million for an interchange at Route 97 and Kate Wagner Road.

The Kate Wagner project is a county-state venture designed to divert traffic from heavily congested Route 140 and Westminster's Main Street.The county is planning to extend the road east beyond Routes 32 and 97, providing a southern route around Westminster. The state is slated to pay 50 percent of construction costs for a bridge over Route 97 and the full cost for ramps.

The county will redirect the $2.1 million it had budgeted to start construction next year until the state comes up with its share, said John T. "Jack" Sterling Jr., county public works director.

Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick,said he believes DOT's projections are overly pessimistic compared to those of the legislature's fiscal analysts.

Carroll legislators have opposed new transportation taxes, saying projects should be delayed until the economy improves. DOT officials say suspending new projects will hinder Maryland's economy.

"DOT's record has not been very good in Carroll anyway," said Delegate Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard. "We haven't had a major project for years. We've tried like the devil to get Route 30 built."

Among the nine Carroll bridge,landscaping and road reconstruction and resurfacing projects that could be deferred are a $4 million deck replacement for the Route 32 bridge over Morgan Run; $3.9 million for the reconstruction of Westminster's East Main Street; $1.9 million for the resurfacing of Route 32 from Liberty Road to Nottingham Road.

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