Why East-West Boulevard Is Needed ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

January 05, 1993

It is time for the 25-year-old feud over East-West Boulevard to end. After countless meetings and endless hours of debate, the central question has not changed: Does Anne Arundel need this road?

The answer is yes. This is not a matter of mere convenience or a ploy to help developers, but one of safety and common sense.

There is a crying need for a quick, direct route between Ritchie and Veterans highways. Every day, thousands of people travel between the two by clogging Benfield Boulevard, one of only two or three east-to-west routes between the highways and certainly the easiest that now exists. Benfield was not designed for such traffic. It was built 25 years ago as a neighborhood road, with residential lots. Now it is so busy, with so many developments feeding off it, that the people who live on Benfield put themselves in peril every time they leave their driveways.

Not only that, fire and ambulance crews have no easy way to get to people who live along the corridor. There is no way in or out of the area other than Benfield itself.

Between now and 2015, traffic on Benfield is expected to grow slightly. But the road is so danger ous that we cannot afford any traffic growth. At what point do we decide we can no longer live with things as they are?

A superhighway is not necessary, nor is that what the county intended. It has always favored what the Greater Severna Park Council suggested to the State Highway Administration recently -- a two-lane road on an 80-foot right of way. Considering how uncomfortable residents are with the prospect of the state building the road, the county should start thinking once more about building it itself. The state could still share the cost, and the project probably would get finished more quickly.

Some opponents, primarily in Shipley's Choice and Elvaton, have made it clear they will not accept any road. They have a vast array of objections, but their central argument is simply that they do not want it in their neighborhoods. Their feelings are natural and expected.

But this is not a neighborhood issue. It is a question of the common good.

Anne Arundel needs East-West Boulevard, and the county and state must ensure we get it as soon as possible.

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