With New Sound Barriers, Schaefer Can Hear Praise

Timberview Thanks Governor For Finding Money

November 06, 1991|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff writer

Gov. William Donald Schaefer isn't getting much thanks in these daysof budget cuts and recession, but the residents of Timberview in Elkridge showered him with praise yesterday.

The governor had promised the community concrete noise barriers along Interstate 95, and despite cuts of $1.7 billion for transportation projects, he kept his promise.

Timberview, however, would be the last of 10 communities left on the state's priority list to get the barriers, Schaefer warned.

"Ifeel really bad for the other people," said Timberview resident JuneCobb after thanking the governor for his support. Cobb kept a thick file on correspondence with the government officials on the barriers,including a 1985 promise to build them from the State Highway Administration.

The other communities, all older neighborhoods near interstate highways such as I-95 and the Baltimore and Washington beltways, could not even get barriers if their counties agreed to contributea third of the cost, as Howard County did for Timberview, Schaefer said.

"It would have to be almost 75 percent -- a minimum of 75 percent," under the state's current financial constraints, Schaefer said.

Transportation Secretary O. James Lighthizer, who accompanied the governor, said that only a boost to the state's Transportation Trust Fund, such as an increase in the gasoline tax, could revive the projects.

"I guess our timing was just good," Cobb observed.

The residents were spurred into action in 1989, when they were told that construction of the barriers, originally scheduled for fiscal 1990, had been put off indefinitely.

Barbara Kendrick, whose backyard now sits in the shadow of the new barriers, walked up to the governor's convertible in last year's Independence Day Parade in Catonsville and told him about it.

That summer, the community formed Families Against Noise and got a host of local elected officials interested in their plight at a cookout, and on Sept. 7 -- four days before the 1990 primary -- Schaefer showed up at Kendrick's house with County Executive M. Elizabeth Bobo to announce that the state and county would sharethe $600,000 cost of the barriers.

Bobo, who was unseated by Republican Charles I. Ecker in November's general election, was also on hand to receive thanks from Timberview residents and praise from her new boss, the governor. Bobo is a deputy secretary at the Department of Human Resources.

Schaefer said the project couldn't have been done without Bobo's help, and without the determination of Timberview residents.

"They did everything right; they didn't try beating us to death," Schaefer said.

Kendrick told Schaefer that while "we made up our minds that we were going to be heard, we really didn't expect that you would listen to us as well as you did."

And yesterday the governor could hear her much better than he could last September.

"Inside the house, its so quiet you can't hear anything," said Kendrick of the barriers, which are about 1,600 feet long and as high 23feet.

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