Why Wait For State? East-west Blvd. To Proceed

Weary Of Sha Delay, County Plans To Build This Fall

March 12, 1992|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

County officials are tired of waiting for the State Highway Administration and are moving ahead with construction of the western end of the controversial East-West Boulevard, County Executive Robert R. Neall has announced.

Speaking before the Greater Severna Park Council Tuesday night, Neall said the state has delayed too long. County planners are studying an alignment for the proposed road, the western endof which will run from Rustling Oaks Road west to Veterans Highway.

The county is trying now to buy the necessary rights of way so workers can begin building the road, county Public Works Director Parker Andrews said yesterday. Construction of the 1-mile, two-lane road should begin this fall, he said.

This was unwelcome news to opponents of the boulevard, who fear that once the western part is built, aneastern portion of the road will follow.

The chief opponents to the East-West Boulevard -- some Shipley's Choice residents and their Elvaton neighbors -- say they do not object to the county road, which would provide a second entrance to the Shipley's Choice community.

Instead, they oppose state plans to expand the county road into the 3-mile-long East-West Boulevard, which would connect Veterans and Ritchie highways.

"The Shipley's people would rather not have a backdoor out than become part of a highway through the community," said Robert O'Leary, spokesman for the Elvaton Improvement Association.

Other Severna Park communities, including those represented by the Greater Severna Park Council endorse East-West Boulevard, saying it is needed to alleviate traffic on Benfield Boulevard.

At the state level, study of the East-West project has been delayed repeatedly. SHA planners are still studying routes, and another public hearing on the project is not scheduled until December.

The state has allocated planning funds for the project, but no construction money.

Severna Park residents have heard six different proposals -- varying in size from two to six lanes -- for the highway since the 1960s. The GreaterSeverna Park Council, an umbrella group made up of more than 60 community groups, has supported the three-mile road since 1978.

The county decided to move ahead on its own with the western portion, Andrews said, because Shipley's residents need another way in and out of the community as soon as possible, and because costs will rise if the county delays.

About $600,000 in county money is now set aside forthe western portion, estimated at $1.1 million.

Andrews said he will ask for the remainder of the funds in the new fiscal 1993 budget.

The road has been designed to stand alone or to be incorporated into the East-West Boulevard, he said. The county supports a two-lane road, he said.

If the state insists on a four-lane road or drops the project altogether, the county would then decide whether to build East-West Boulevard itself, Andrews said.

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