Counties to cooperate to solve transportation woes

November 01, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

FREDERICK -- Leaders from Carroll and three other counties walked away from a regional meeting here yesterday pledging greater cooperation in controlling growth and improving transportation.

"If we get serious about it, we can make some good things happen," said Carroll Commissioner President Donald I. Dell during the first Quad Counties Meeting. "Things we do now will affect people 50 years from now."

Along with Mr. Dell, Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy and some county staff members attended the meeting. Commissioner Julia Gouge, a scheduled panelist, was absent. The other counties represented were Frederick, Howard and Montgomery.

Frederick County Commissioner Gail T. Bowerman said that while the counties are associated with different metropolitan regions and different levels of growth, all should put territorialism aside.

"We're the ones that have to do it," she said about controlling growth and improving transportation. "We can't let somebody else do it. We need to have a continuation of these types of meetings."

Mr. Dell proposed that elected officials from each of the counties continue meeting to brainstorm. Other issues he'd like to discuss include school construction, reforestation and economic growth.

"I hope we go to serious efforts at regionalism," said Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker. "We've attempted this in the past and it hasn't worked."

The emphasis yesterday focused on state and federal mandates pertaining to planning and transportation.

State officials provided briefings on Maryland's growth-control legislation and the federal Clean Air Act. Local officials then talked about how their counties were working to comply with those laws.

Edmund R. Cueman, Carroll's planning director, said it was imperative that the state planning department have oversight over other state agencies in carrying out the growth-control or 2020 plan, which calls for concentrating construction in suitable areas, protecting environmentally sensitive areas and streamlining regulation on development.

Mr. Cueman called for reform in the way state dollars are doled out for transportation projects. Carroll officials were told last week that state dollars for long-discussed highway improvements, such as Route 30 and Westminster bypasses, wouldn't come any time soon.

"It's beginning to take its toll," Mr. Cueman said of traffic on those and other main roads in the county. "Roads are needed badly. We can't be left out in the cold because the worst is first [in funding]."

He also said agricultural preservation should be one of the state's highest priorities.

"We can win the battle against sprawl and accomplish the vision we share," he said.

Carroll's transportation planner, Rob Yingling, replaced Ms. Gouge as a panelist. He said county officials are working with some 35 companies to help the firms reduce employee trips. To curb air pollution, the Clean Air Act of 1990 requires governments and companies with 100 or more employees to reduce the number of employee trips to work by 25 percent.

Carl Balser, chief of Howard County's planning and zoning department, said the federal legislation means officials need to start thinking about "people instead of just vehicles" when it comes to solving transportation woes.

More roads, transportation officials said, are no longer the solution. High-occupancy-vehicle lanes, bicycle and pedestrian paths, toll roads, mass transportation and flexible work schedules are some of the solutions, they said.

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