Officials review alternate Route 3 bypass of Crofton

April 26, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

In the past, concerns about wetlands halted plans for a western bypass around Route 3 in Crofton, but state highway officials are reviewing an alternative that may be more acceptable to state and federal environmental agencies.

The proposed alignment would swing 2,000 to 3,000 feet west of the old route, halving the number of wetland acres that would be damaged, says Robert Scott, president of the Greater Crofton Council.

"It's one of these things where you've got to get a proper balance between the needs of people and the needs of nature," says Mr. Scott, whose community association represents several areas within the Crofton ZIP code but outside the Crofton special tax district.

The original bypass plan started south of Route 450, looped through Patuxent River wetlands west of Crofton and rejoined Route 3 between Routes 175 and 32.

But that route was rejected Feb. 15 at a meeting of the Route 3 Task Force. Representatives of the state Department of Natural Resources, the State Highway Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the bypass would have destroyed 30 to 35 acres of wetlands along the Patuxent River and damaged several archaeological sites.

Several members of the Route 3 Task Force then proposed the new route, which is shorter, rejoining Route 3 at Waugh Chapel Road.

The SHA is reviewing the plan and should have a reply when the task force meets on May 18, says Heather Murphy, travel forecaster for the administration.

The SHA already has plans in place to widen Route 3 through Crofton to three lanes in each direction between Route 450 and Waugh Chapel Road.

The agency also has proposed making the Crofton segment of Route 3 a controlled-access highway, with three lanes in each direction and service roads on each side.

Many Crofton residents oppose that idea, fearing it would force the condemnation of businesses and cut off Crofton residents from businesses and offices west of Route 3.

"I've gotten a number of calls from very concerned Chamber [of Commerce] members," says Tom Callahan, a member of the transportation committee of the Greater Crofton Chamber of Commerce.

Some business owners are finding it difficult to make decisions on properties and rentals in the Route 3 corridor, he says.

Ms. Murphy says the state is merely studying the idea of a controlled-access highway, and any construction is more than 10 years away.

"I wouldn't say most people should be too concerned," she says.

The Patuxent River wetlands are important, says Edwin Dosek, president of the Crofton Civic Association, because they provide a habitat for many creatures. But that concern must be weighed against the possibility of injury or deaths caused by heavy congestion on Route 3.

"This is an environmentalist's nightmare," says Mr. Dosek, whose group administers the Crofton special tax district.

No matter which way you go, he says, it's going to have an impact on either the natural environment or the human environment.

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