Study looks at easing Route 30 jams Signals are key, consultant says NORTH * Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

August 25, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

A new study of Hampstead's traffic problems suggests some improvements to ease Route 30 congestion until a Hampstead bypass is built.

The Maryland State Highway Administration commissioned the study, and has final say over whether the recommendations will be implemented.

The study, prepared by Johnson, Mirmiran and Thompson, P.A., covers Route 30 between the two CSX rail crossings in Hampstead.

The recommendations drew mixed reviews from Hampstead officials, and SHA officials were unavailable for comment on when the improvements might be made and how much they would cost.

The study said the most important step that could be taken to ease congestion would be for the SHA to wire together the traffic signals at the four major intersections in town.

Connecting the signals would improve their timing and smooth traffic flow, especially during rush hours, the study said. It would also make it easier for pedestrians to cross Route 30, by providing more gaps in traffic.

A second major recommendation is to close Black Rock Road from Route 30 to Gill Avenue, and turn it into a parking lot.

Entry to the parking lot would be only from Route 30. Exit would be onto Gill Avenue. To prevent drivers from using the lot as a through route, left turns from the lot onto Gill Avenue would be prohibited.

"These improvements will increase public parking for the Town of Hampstead while improving pedestrian crossings across Route 30," the study said.

The change would make it easier for pedestrians to cross Route 30, it said, because there will be more gaps in traffic if cars cannot turn right from Black Rock Road onto Route 30.

Town Manager John A. Riley said he had suggested this idea to the state a long time ago.

"I definitely think it's a good idea," said Mayor Clint Becker. However, he said he also would like to ask local business people their opinions.

He said he thought the creation of additional parking spaces near the central business district would please merchants.

Councilwoman Jacqueline Hyatt, who owns Jackie's Animal Boutique on Route 30, said she thinks converting this section of Black Rock Road into a parking lot is a good idea.

However, she said, the extra parking created would not help businesses on the opposite side of Route 30, because it is so hard for pedestrians to cross the highway.

Larry Klingenberg, owner of Bob's Variety Store, agreed.

"Getting across Main Street -- right now -- it can be worth your life," he said.

Mrs. Hyatt said she thinks the town should look into buying a vacant lot on the west side of Route 30 to use for a parking lot.

A third recommendation of the study would prohibit on-street parking along Route 30 near major intersections. The study said this would improve visibility and allow more room for through traffic to pass cars stopped while waiting to make left turns.

The study said this change could reduce the number of accidents caused by poor visibility and the number of rear-end crashes into vehicles stopped to make left turns.

Mr. Klingenberg said the loss of on-street parking would hurt his business.

"If they want to start taking parking spaces," he said, "what they're saying is, 'We don't want you to survive.' "

The traffic study also suggests that vehicles be prohibited from exiting the First National Bank parking lot onto Route 30. It says traffic should be allowed to enter the lot from Route 30, but should exit via Gill Avenue.

Finally, the study suggested that a committee be formed to investigate forming car pools and van pools to reduce traffic volume on Route 30. The study said the committee should include representatives of the town of Hampstead, the town of Manchester, the State Highway Administration, Carroll County and major local employers.

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