Roads agency to seek alternatives to closure Main Street work to begin in Oct. CENTRAL * Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg

September 16, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Westminster officials yesterday said the State Highway Administration may find alternatives to closing the intersection of Main and Center streets for three weeks beginning in October.

Mayor W. Benjamin Brown said SHA officials assured him they would consider other measures, such as working at the site some evenings and leaving the intersection open part of the day.

Some 11,000 vehicles travel Main Street each day, he said.

"They're looking at alternatives," Mr. Brown said. "I'm not sure they were aware of all the consequences [of closing the intersection] to the community."

SHA officials planned to close the intersection Oct. 4 through early November as part of the reconstruction of East Main Street, a project that began last winter and is expected to be completed in October 1994. The project includes rebuilding East Main Street from Longwell Avenue to Washington Road and Washington Road to Quintal Drive.

Project engineer Ron Ritz said the intersection's closing was part of the SHA's original plans for the reconstruction project.

Paving and road closings began this summer. Work at Main and Center includes installing new telephone lines, storm drains and manholes, and replacing curbs and gutters, Mr. Ritz said.

Tom Beyard, the city's director of planning and public works, said the SHA initially looked for ways to keep the intersection open during the work but decided that was not possible.

"It was a question of safety," Mr. Beyard said. "There's no question they could maintain traffic through there, but the safety of people passing through next to ditching and trenching would not work. Safety is first and foremost."

The SHA's decision to close the intersection without discussing the matter with emergency personnel has upset Westminster firefighters and city officials. Mr. Brown said emergency workers should be apprised of any short- or long-term changes in traffic patterns.

Closing the intersection means that ambulances and medic units will have to use other routes to Carroll County General Hospital. SHA officials were looking at two detours for other motorists: Willis Street or Route 140.

"We had a format set up so that state highway officials would routinely inform the Fire Department and ambulance service of any changes in traffic patterns," Mr. Brown said. "That has not been occurring lately."

Mr. Ritz said he believed all emergency officials had been notified of plans to close the intersection. Fliers will be sent out to remind officials about the closing.

Although emergency workers weren't part of the decision process, Mr. Ritz said they should have been informed of the intersection's closing.

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