Only the most determined pedestrians, the ones with nerves of steel who march undaunted along major highways, will have the courage to cross Dorsey Road in the future.
Within the next few years, the state plans to modernize and widen the two-lane road that stretches from the Baltimore-Washington Expressway into the heart of Glen Burnie.
The reconstruction proposal calls for turning Dorsey Road into a divided, four-lane highway with as many as three turn lanes at intersections.
Glen Burnie residents were shocked to learn they would have to cross six lanes to get from one side of Dorsey Road to Central Avenue, a peaceful street lined with stately trees. They also were upset by the prospect of losing a parking lot across from the National Guard Armory and facing three or four turn lanes at Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.
"The impact will be very great," said Kathy DeGrange, who was shaken after visiting the area Tuesday with State Highway Administration officials.
DeGrange was unusually glum when she toldmembers of the Glen Burnie Improvement Association about the projectthat night. As chairman of the public works committee, she had requested the meeting with state officials after she received a letter stating that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources intends to build a buffer along Sawmill Creek, which flows roughly parallel to the northern third of Dorsey Road.
She has been pushing the state to build a pedestrian overpass at Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard and sidewalks along Dorsey Road. But after discovering that the state Department Natural Resources wants to protect Sawmill Creek with a retaining wall, DeGrange said she was less enthusiastic.
"I'm very nervous that we're going to end up pinning pedestrians against the wall at a very dangerous intersection," she said.
Other Glen Burnie residentsexpressed concern about children who attend Arthur Slade Elementary School or cross Dorsey Road to get to fast-food restaurants. They also were worried that the road work will isolate more seniors.
Lois Miller, who serves on Glen Burnie's urban renewal committee, pointed out that the seniors who live in Glen Square, about a mile from Dorsey Road in downtown Glen Burnie, already have a tough time crossing the busy streets.
"When they built the senior housing here, it was greatly extolled that the seniors could walk to the senior center and also walk to get their groceries," she said. "It was supposed to be one of the benefits of putting the housing here, where they would not be isolated out in the cornfields somewhere."
The Dorsey Road project was developed together with the modernization of Interstate 97, said Larry Elliott, assistant district engineer with the State HighwayAdministration. The reconfiguration of Dorsey, originally scheduled to start this year, was one of three large projects in a package to upgrade Route 3 south of Furnace Branch Road, he said.
Like all other road work, the widening of Dorsey Road hinges on whether the stateDepartment of Transportation wins its 11th-hour appeal for more money.
The department will be broke by the end of the year, unless thestate legislature approves higher motor vehicle fees and other taxes.
In December, Schaefer administration officials halted all new transportation projects. But state lawmakers voted in a recent emergency session to protect the department's federal subsidies and
projects that are federally supported. Dorsey Road is one of them.
"Right now, your guess is as good as mine on a date for this project," Elliott said.
Dorsey Road was identified for improvements in a comprehensive study of the Baltimore-Annapolis transportation corridor, he said. The eight-year study, finished in 1981, called for $160 millionworth of road improvements in northern Anne Arundel County.
Transportation engineers have completed designs for the project and have apackage ready to solicit bids, once the money is approved, Elliott said.
But Glen Burnie residents won't protest the delay. After hearing about the proposed expansion and other events, including plans tomove the Urban Renewal Office to Annapolis, members of the civic association sounded downright sour.
"This is not a night to feel realgood about what's happening here," Miller said.