Widening of Route 32 gets tentative OK

January 27, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Sykesville's plan for improving Route 32 won a conditional go-ahead from the State Highway Administration Tuesday.

"We can and will be able to do much of the work, if we get the funding," said Douglas Rose, SHA district engineer.

The SHA agreed "to incorporate the improvements into our work on the highway," he said.

Money for the improvements would come from the SHA maintenance budget which, Mr. Rose said, "has been seriously hurt by the bad winter weather."

The proposed but unfunded plan would make Route 32, which the state calls the Sykesville bypass, a four-lane road from Route 851, south of the Patapsco River, to the planned Obrecht Road extension that the county has scheduled for construction late this year.

"The state would tear up the shoulders and make four all-travel lanes," said James L. Schumacher, town manager. "They will also widen the intersections to allow for left-turn lanes."

Improvements include the construction of turn lanes at the four town intersections along the route. Construction could begin this summer.

"This is no big deal, just a matter of getting the dollars and getting in there to do the job," said Mr. Rose.

"We are just utilizing the shoulders to improve capacity through a major traffic area."

In a meeting with the town Tuesday, SHA officials said the project falls within the state's summer construction plans.

Bob Bond, town engineer, estimated the cost of the project at more than $1 million.

But Mr. Rose called that estimate high and said the SHA was looking at "a lot less."

Route 32 intersects the town's streets at four points. Northbound vehicles turning left into town from the two-lane highway pose a safety hazard by forcing through traffic onto gravel shoulders, said Mayor Kenneth W. Clark. Only one intersection -- Sandosky Road -- is controlled by a traffic light.

The SHA planned a routine resurfacing of Route 32 from the Howard County line north to Route 26 this summer and will incorporate the shoulder work at that time, said Mr. Rose.

"We will go as far north from the river as we can," he said. "We may not get as far north as Route 26 this year."

Eliminating the shoulders poses "no specific safety problems," said Mr. Rose. The lane widths remain the same.

The construction should have little or no impact on rush-hour traffic and would involve closing one lane from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, said Mr. Rose.

Route 32 serves as the main egress for hundreds of Sykesville residents whose daily commute takes them north to Route 26 or south to Route 70.

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