Assembly Vote Revives Stalled Road Projects

Mva Fee Hike Brings In New Highway Money

June 30, 1991|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff writer

An increase in state vehicle fees passed by the General Assembly last week will restart the first part of the long-awaited Route 100 project and fuel three road maintenance and improvement projects in the county.

More than 120 projects, including the $25 million Route 100and U.S. 29 interchange, that were put on hold when transportation revenue dropped in December will be restarted with the 63 fee increases approved Wednesday by the General Assembly. The increases are expected to raise an additional $35 million in the next fiscal year and help the state preserve more than $250 million in matching federal highway money.

Included on the state's list of projects to be revived is the interchange at Route 103 and U.S. 29 that will also begin the Route 100 project, the widening of U.S. 40 in Ellicott City, resurfacing Route 144 from Route 32 to Triadelphia Road, and improving the intersectionat Route 175 and Thunder Hill Road.

The State Highway Administration received bids for the Route 100 interchange project last fall butnever opened them because of the fiscal crisis.

That is the only new construction planned for Howard County.

Another project scheduled to begin this year that was not on the list would relocate and straighten Route 32 between Cedar Lane and Route 108 in the center of Clarksville.

That project could be revived after the spring legislative session, during which state transportation officials say they'llonce again ask legislators to approve an increase of the state's gasoline tax to boost the transportation trust fund.

The County Council voted Tuesday to tentatively adopt a list of highway priorities given them by County Executive Charles I. Ecker and to have a public hearing with Ecker and members of the county's legislative delegation.

The hearing has not been scheduled, but it will have to take placebefore November, when state highway officials meet with county administrators to outline their Howard County plans for the next budget.

The proposed priorities are:

1. The U.S. 29-Route 100 interchange already included on the state's list of projects restarted by fee increases.

2. Four lanes of Route 100 between U.S. 29 and Interstate 95.

3. Two lanes of the relocated Route 32 between Cedar Lane and Route 108.

4. A new interchange at Route 32 and Route 108 in Clarksville, and the third and fourth lanes of the relocated segment of Route 32.

5. A third eastbound lane from U.S. 29 to Interstate 95,which the council designated a "special project" to place it on a different priority list in competition for state funds.

6. The addition of third and fourth lanes to Route 32 from Route 108 to Interstate 70.

Included in the county's capital budget for fiscal year 1992is $11.7 million to add a third and fourth lane to either Route 100 or Route 32, whichever the state decides to build first.

The list was included in a letter from Ecker to the council and delegation. Ecker gave top priority in the letter for secondary roads to relocatingRoute 216 from U.S. 29 to I-95 as a four-lane limited-access highway.

However, that project's engineering has been bogged down with wetland regulation problems, said James M. Irvin, the county's directorof public works.

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