Route 3 remedies weighed Panel to consider several options for Crofton area

February 14, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Alleviating the crowded and dangerous driving conditions on Route 3 in the Crofton area could result in bridges, high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, local access roads and relocating the road one mile to the west, according to a state highway official.

These are some of the options being discussed by a committee of residents and officials from Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties. The group has begun what could be a three-year discussion on road improvements.

Neil J. Pedersen, director of the office of planning for the State Highway Administration (SHA), stressed at a Friday breakfast meeting of the Crofton Chamber of Commerce that the group is starting from scratch.

"We are committed to this being an open process," Mr. Pedersen said. He added that the much-debated eastern bypass is dead and won't be resurrected.

Among the possibilities he suggested are building a service road along the west side of Route 3 and bridges to the east side; adding high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes to ease commuting and reward people who car pool; and relocating Route 3 one mile to the west. But Mr. Pedersen said that would be a major expense and could affect 72 acres of wetlands.

He promised to work with local community groups and their representatives until a consensus can be found.

One frequent and vocal opponent of Route 3 upgrades is Edwin F. Dosek, president of the Crofton Civic Association.

"I will sit at the table with Ed Dosek and stare at him and have him stare at me until we finally can't stand it anymore and we agree to agree on something," Mr. Pedersen said.

The sticking point has been the eastern bypass issue, which would have provided an alternate highway from Richmond to U.S. Route 50 at the Anne Arundel County border. The idea, first proposed in the early 1980s, would have included upgrading Route 3 to interstate standards.

The SHA has abandoned the project, which drew heavy criticism from Crofton and Bowie residents fearing traffic jams and increased development in the Route 3-301 corridor.

But the bypass issue emerged again on Wednesday in Annapolis, when the House Ways and Means Committee heard testimony on a bill that would cut off funds for either an eastern or western bypass, as well as for several other projects.

Jordan L. Harding, the town manager for Crofton, testified that the community supports the bill because Route 3 already serves as a bypass for other area highways.

"There are already enormous pressures to change land-use plans in this corridor, and creeping overdevelopment has fostered intersection failures, new congestion and serious public safety problems," Mr. Harding said. "We need legislative protection against these ills."

Mr. Pedersen said the state opposes the bill. On Friday, he said the bill could restrict the series of task forces now forming to study transportation issues on Routes 301 and 3.

That includes an 80-member committee now being formed by the governor to study the entire Route 301 corridor and a smaller group studying the eight-mile stretch of Route 3 from U.S. 50 to Route 32.

Those studies must go forward, he said, adding that development along Route 301 in southern Maryland is picking up.

"If we don't do something, we could end up with a situation that nobody can live with," Mr. Pedersen said.

He said it could take up to three years before any plan is finalized, then an additional five to seven years before construction begins.

In the meantime, small improvements will be made -- mostly those fostered by new developments in the area.

Other projects, such as a planned bridge over Route 3 at Route 424, are on hold.

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