'Lazy S' Stands for Solution HOWARD COUNTY

August 12, 1993

What hordes of elected officials were unable to do over many years, Valerie McGuire accomplished in 15 hours on her kitchen table: that is, to get the Route 100 extension under way, at last. Ms. McGuire, a day-care operator by trade, designed a road system that took into account the environment as well as residents' homes so that the government could start this long-delayed project.

Her winning design is known as the "Lazy S." It avoids the neighborhood of Hunt Country Estates in southern Ellicott City, and passes near the Montgomery Run condominium community. An alternative route would have required razing the homes of two of Ms. McGuire's neighbors and would have placed the highway at the edge of her own property.

Two Howard County Council members, two state senators, four delegates and County Executive Charles Ecker recently voted in favor of the Lazy S.

Councilman C. Vernon Gray, whose district includes both communities, and council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass did not vote.

Ms. Pendergrass claimed she did not have enough information to vote -- the same excuse she gave when the issue was taken up in 1987.

As for Mr. Gray, he said he withheld his vote pending a firm commitment from the State Highway Administration to provide a noise barrier for Montgomery Run residents. While a noise barrier is a necessity, Mr. Gray's no-vote seemed more a way to avoid a decision on a controversial issue on his home turf. It is doubtful that his lone abstention could extract a promise from state officials if they conclude no barrier is necessary. Mr. Gray owes his community a firm stance on this worthy project.

The Route 100 extension is a necessary connector between the eastern and western parts of the county, and will improve access to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. It should also help ease congestion on Routes 108 and 103.

This project has languished on the planning board since 1960. Some foot-dragging in recent years has been the result of fear from the slow-growthers, who see this project as yet another conduit for out-of-control development, not as necessary infrastructure for people already living here. Fortunately, for now at least, the extension is moving ahead.

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