Roads officials get earful of complaints No near-term relief promised for jams

October 30, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Commuters pile up on Route 30 in Hampstead during the afternoon rush hour. Cars clog Route 140 in Westminster near shopping centers. Businesses that depend on good roads sometimes choose not to locate in Carroll County.

State transportation officials heard these and other complaints at a meeting yesterday with county and municipal officials.

"We'll take care of you, I promise," Maryland Transportation Secretary O. James Lighthizer said.

Officials discussed a variety of projects, including bypasses for Westminster and Hampstead, an Interstate 795 extension, and improvements to the Route 140 intersection with Meadow Branch and Royer roads in Westminster.

County Planning Director Edmund R. Cueman said congestion is so bad on Route 30 that "we're gassing communities out. Some of these communities are really at stake."

Thirty percent to 40 percent of the engineering work is finished on the Hampstead bypass, a new two-lane highway to replace a six-mile stretch of Route 30, State Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff said.

The total cost of the project will be $30 million to $40 million, he said. Money for construction costs has not been allocated.

The bypass will be built so that it can be upgraded to an interstate highway, Mr. Kassoff added.

A Westminster bypass -- a new 8-mile, four-lane highway from near Hughes Shop Road to near Reese Road -- would cost about $200 million, he said. The money will not be coming to Carroll any time soon, however, he said.

It could be five to 10 years before there is "an intolerable bottleneck" on Route 140, Mr. Kassoff said.

Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown said the traffic on Route 140 sometimes reminds him of "bumper cars."

Commissioner Donald I. Dell has suggested extending I-795 through Carroll in a direction parallel to Route 140 toward Adams County, Pa., as an option to building bypasses for Westminster, Hampstead and Manchester.

Last month, Gov. William Donald Schaefer wrote to Mr. Dell, saying, "The concept is interesting," but that the project would be hard to accomplish because of limited money and increasing concern for environmental impact.

"It's worthy of being looked at," Mr. Kassoff said yesterday.

The Baltimore Metropolitan Committee and Carroll and state highway officials will jointly study the proposal, he said.

State Sen. Larry E. Haines said constituents have expressed concern about traffic at the intersection of Route 140 with Meadow Branch and Royer roads.

Residents say it's dangerous to make a left turn onto Royer Road because there is so much traffic eastbound on Route 140, the Carroll Republican said. He added that they want a turn lane.

Mayor Brown said it's also hard for school buses and motorists to turn onto Route 140 or cross it from either side.

State Highway Administration District Engineer Doug Rose said the state has studied the intersection and found that a traffic signal is not warranted.

Money to add a left-turn lane from westbound Route 140 is budgeted in fiscal year 1995, Mr. Rose said.

William E. Jenne, Carroll's business development manager, said the county needs to upgrade its roads continually.

"Our ability to attract industry is severely choked off if we don't have through roads," he said.

Mr. Lighthizer presented Carroll officials with a check for $142,956 yesterday to repay the county for some of the money it has spent to acquire land to expand the Carroll County Regional Airport.

Federal and state grants are being used to help pay for the $17 million project.

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