Road plan triggers hot debate Obrecht Rd. project has citizens split

April 27, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

About 35 people jammed Sykesville's Town House last night to voice differing opinions about the proposed alignments for Obrecht Road.

Everyone agreed that the well-traveled road needs realigning. But a controversy raged over which plan -- the county's or town's -- is best.

Garth Adams, a Town Council candidate, delivered a petition with 58 signatures that opposed the town's plan to widen Obrecht and extend it to Third Avenue and on to Route 32.

Others, citing environmental and logistical concerns, opposed the county's plan, which loops the road around the north end of the Fairhaven Retirement Home.

With a large map detailing the proposed routes as a backdrop, Town Manager James Schumacher said, "Transportation issues are the most important task for town planners."

Access to Route 32 is the biggest problem, he said. About 80 percent of the residents of the town's newest developments use internal streets to get to that highway, which he said needs repairs.

"Those roads are not wide enough, nor are the intersections with 32 designed to handle the increased traffic volume," he said.

The county has altered its original plan three times.

"We backed the county's alignment for six years," said Councilman Jonathan Herman. "We would love to imagine everyone using that route, but in a hurry they won't."

The latest county proposal, to widen the loop road, was the "straw that broke the camel's back," said Mr. Herman, who also serves on the town's Planning Commission.

"We will end up with a $2 million road that nobody uses," he said. About a month ago, Mr. Schumacher said the Planning Commission drafted its own alternative.

The State Highway Administration said the town's proposal offers good sight distance and could be built at half the cost, he said.

"People already use Obrecht as a cut-through, and you want to turn it into a raceway," said Dave Hecht, who has lived on the road for 12 years. "The police can't be there 24 hours a day to regulate the speed and there won't be anything they can do about the traffic volume.

"Stick with the county proposal."

Sykesville Police Chief Wallace Mitchell agreed traffic violations would be difficult to control.

Shortly before the meeting, he spent 30 minutes monitoring motorists on Obrecht.

"Of 107 cars, two were close to the 25 mile-per-hour speed limit," he said. "The rest were in the 30s and 40s.

"If you widen Obrecht, you will make speeding easier."

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