County officials present mixed review of progress on transportation goals Partsof Route 100 in construction, but others stuck

October 02, 1992|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

The county's main transportation goal remains mired in federal wetlands protections, but a key highway connecting Columbia to Clarksville has been freed from the state's fiscal rut, the state highway administrator told county officials last night.

Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff spoke of the "sad story" of the Route 100 wetlands troubles during the state Transportation Department's annual presentation of long-term plans for the county.

The good news, he said, is that Route 100, the county's top transportation priority, is under construction. The $28 million interchange at U.S. 29 in Ellicott City has been under way for about a year; work on the $109 million segment from U.S. 1 to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway began Sept. 14.

The bad news is that two other Route 100 expansions between U.S. 29 and 1 are being held up by wetlands difficulties, he said. Original plans called for relocating Deep Run stream, but federal regulators rejected that proposal and a new route must be selected.

In 1987, local and state officials chose a path that Route 100 would take through southern Ellicott City and Elkridge. But residents of Hunt Country Estates opposed that route because they didn't want it built in their neighborhood.

Responding to those protests, officials moved the route 150 feet south. That route stood until last year, when federal regulators said they could not permit the amount of wetlands destruction that the highway would require.

Last fall, SHA officials informed neighborhood residents that a third possibility would be to go through Hunt Country Estates and destroy two homes and affect six others. Residents again protested and officials studied other options. Mr. Kassoff said SHA now has three possible routes, and public hearings will be conducted sometime in December.

Bogged down in those wetlands problems is another segment, from U.S. 29 to Route 104. Mr. Kassoff said federal regulators have balked at SHA's attempts to get a separate wetlands permit in order to begin construction on that segment in fiscal 1993, beginning July 1.

Federal regulators want to issue only one comprehensive permit for all segments.

Farther west, Columbia's 10th and last village of River Hill, and the motorists who sit through traffic in Clarksville's commercial center, won't have to wait for a relocated four-lane Route 32.

The $61 million project was stalled last year because of a massive shortfall in transportation revenue, then revived after the July increase n the state's gasoline tax.

The highway will continue the limited-access portion of Route 32 highway from U.S. 29 west in a nearly straight line to Clarksville. The $63-million project will include overpass interchanges at Cedar Lane and Route 108.

County Councilman Charles Feaga called the revival of Route 32 a "big relief" because it would prevent gridlock in Clarksville.

Also on the state's transportation plans for the county is a new Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) station near Route 176 and the Anne Arundel County line in Dorsey.

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