Condo noise issue remains to be resolved for Route 100

August 09, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Now that the county's elected officials have made a recommendation on which side of protected wetlands Route 100 will be built, highway noise at one condominium building remains the only political loose end.

When 10 of 12 County Council members and state legislators voted July 22 to put the highway south of Deep Run in southern Ellicott City, they did so on condition that the State Highway Administration deal with the noise concerns of condominium residents in the Village of Montgomery Run.

"In general, we are going to try to ensure that 100 percent of the residents of Montgomery Run are protected in line with the original agreement with our builder," said Kim Abramson, a resident who has represented the condominium association during the Route 100 dispute of nearly two years. "Also, we must maintain price stability and the quality of life within the community."

She said she expected to present officials later this week with a list of specific requirements that Montgomery Run residents want.

Ms. Abramson's community of 588 units had opposed the "Lazy S" alignment chosen at the July meeting because it was south of the stream and closer to the condominiums.

Montgomery Run residents favored a northern alignment chosen by county officials in 1987 that later was disapproved by federal and state regulators because it would cause too much harm to Deep Run's federally protected wetlands.

Residents of another community, Hunt Country Estates, opposed that northern alignment because it would have meant the destruction of two homes and would have caused excessive noise for six others. Community residents have fought various proposals for the six-lane highway since 1985.

With the two communities at odds, the choice was in effect made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which led other regulatory agencies to share its preference for the "Lazy S" -- a road curving close to Montgomery Run south of Deep Run.

The final decision on the alignment rests with State Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff, who is all but certain to choose the Lazy S. The SHA's chief planner, Neil Pedersen, promised to provide more information on possible noise protection by the end of this month.

Ms. Abramson said Montgomery Run residents will ask the SHA to abide by an agreement it made with developer Macks & Macks, based on the alignment recommended in 1987.

"Fortunately, 95 percent of the community is as good as or better off than it would have been under the original alignment," she said, but one building, with 12 units at the end of Falls Run Road, will be 26 feet closer to the road.

Del. Martin G. Madden, a Republican who represents the area, asked Mr. Pedersen to have engineers look into narrowing the width of the median strip to make up the distance between the two alignments.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker made a similar proposal in an Aug. 2 letter to Mr. Kassoff.

"If they could move the road 30 feet away, then the road will be as far away as the original alignment, and there wouldn't be any problem," Mr. Ecker said Friday.

Mark Crampton, SHA project engineer for Route 100 in Howard County, said Mr. Madden's suggestion would violate safety-related design standards.

"With the road being in a curve, a wider median allows you a better sight distance," Mr. Crampton said.

He said that the 54-foot median width includes two 10-foot-wide shoulders, so the actual grass median is only 34 feet wide. The wider median also would make adding lanes in the future easier, Mr. Crampton said.

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