Two major road-improvement projects in Harford County worth nearly $40 million, originally scheduled to start within the next year, have been deferred because the state lacks money, transportation officials said yesterday.
O. James Lighthizer, Maryland's transportation secretary, and other state officials met with Harford officials yesterday as part of a statewide tour to review the proposed state transportation plan. A revenue shortfall has led to the postponement of $1.76 billion worth of work on 66 major projects across Maryland.
The two major projects put on hold in Harford are:
* Widening and other work on Md. 24 from Interstate 95 south to Md. 755. Development around this 2.6-mile section near Edgewood is causing congestion. Construction is estimated to cost about $22 million.
* Widening and other work on Md. 22 from east of Shamrock Road to east of Md. 543. Development is causing congestion on the 2.5-mile section near Bel Air. Construction is estimated to cost about $15 million.
"These projects have been planned for a long time," said Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, who added that she would work with the county's legislative delegation to determine whether Harford "got its fair share" in the state transportation plan.
The plan must be submitted to Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the General Assembly for final action.
The Md. 24 project also is needed to provide better access to the new Edgewood MARC train station, Rehrmann said.
State and local officials had good news on two other local transportation issues.
Rehrmann said the county planned to proceed with a $600,000 project involving realignment and placement of a traffic signal at the intersection of Hess Road and Md. 146, also known as Jarrettsville Pike, where an influx of commuter traffic is causing an increasing number of accidents.
"Things are getting critical down there," Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, said of the intersection. Many Harford residents use Hess Road en route to jobs in Towson and elsewhere.
Ronald J. Hartman, chief of the state Mass Transit Administration, said that ridership on the new MARC commuter rail line from Baltimore to Perryville, in Cecil County, is well above expectations. He said the line has about 600 riders each day, rather than the 400 expected initially.
L "It certainly shows that the demand is there," Hartman said.
However, commuters wanting more trains to Baltimore, especially later runs in the morning, will have to wait because of needed track improvements and the lack of money.