FREDERICK-WASHINGTON COUNTY BORDER — AT THE FREDERICK-WASHINGTON COUNTY BORDER -- In the never-ending debate about where Western Maryland begins, now starts at the beginning of Frederick County and not at the end, as far as state officials are concerned.
State highway workers have removed a sign from Interstate 70 west, at the Frederick-Washington County border, that welcomed travelers to "Scenic Western Maryland." Wally Beaulieu, state highway district engineer for Western Maryland, said it was decided to remove the sign last month "because the emphasis is now being placed on the four Western Maryland counties, which include Frederick."
Part of this emphasis comes from printing a new Western Maryland map that includes Garrett, Allegany, Washington and now Frederick County. The map is available at visitor centers in ++ Western Maryland.
State economic development officials have been coordinating a promotion program for Western Maryland. New signs along I-70 will identify points of interest for tourists off the road, such as state parks and historic sites.
In meetings with community leaders about the new program, some attending from counties west of Frederick complained about including Frederick County in Western Maryland. They said that they had little in common with the largest county in the state, which is often linked to the Washington metropolitan area these days as well as to Western Maryland, because of the I-270 corridor that runs through neighboring Montgomery County and ends in Frederick.
In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau determined this week that
Frederick city is not a rural community. It is now considered an urban area, because it meets the criteria of a population of at least 50,000 residents in its city and surrounding area.
Despite the urban tag, Frederick County Commissioner Ronald Sundergill said he was "very pleased to be officially part of Western Maryland" in the state's eyes.
"Even though we are becoming more urbanized and connected employment-wise to Montgomery County, I like the idea of us being grouped culturally and geographically with Western Maryland," he said.