Business groups opt for I-795 extension, not Route 140 bypass

August 29, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

Organizations that represent Carroll's business and industrial community would prefer the extension of Interstate 795 west from Reisterstown rather than a Route 140 bypass around Westminster.

The county Economic Development Commission and Chamber of Commerce support Commissioner Donald I. Dell's proposal to extend the interstate route into the county. Other local, state and federal officials say the I-795 extension is a pipe dream.

Business and industrial interests have remained silent about their transportation needs as local residents organized this summer to fight the proposed Westminster bypass. The State Highway Administration (SHA) outlined three possible bypass routes -- two north of the city and one south -- at a public hearing in June.

Members of the Economic Development Commission concluded that an I-795 extension "could also serve the purpose of getting traffic around Manchester and Hampstead and Westminster," said Chairman Paul Denton.

A planned Route 30 bypass around Hampstead leads the county's priority list for state road construction projects. A Route 30 bypass around Manchester is in the planning stage.

Mr. Denton said a Westminster bypass "would be taking the traffic jam off one side of town and putting it on the other."

The Chamber of Commerce favors a Route 30 bypass and extension of I-795, said Helen C. Utz, executive director.

Extending I-795 "just isn't going to happen, not in my lifetime," said Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge agreed. "My question was, why was it coming back up, because the state has said 795 as proposed by Donald [Dell] is just out of the question," she said. She said Mr. Dell's proposed I-795 route, from Reisterstown to Bachman Valley Road, "took off through the fields and went nowhere."

Getting I-795 extended would be an uphill pull with brakes on, SHA regional planner Steven McHenry indicated. The proposal hasn't made the county priority list, the SHA inventory of future highways needs, the Baltimore Metropolitan Planning Organization's long-range plan or the county master plan, he said.

"There are other ways to skin the cat than a brand new, multilane, limited-access highway through agricultural preservation land," Mr. McHenry said.

Chances of getting federal money to extend I-795 are slim, said Cheri Jacobus, press secretary to Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a 6th District Republican. She said financing is in question for an interchange of Interstates 70 and 270 in Frederick, which is on the priority list.

Robert Bair, acting head of the county Office of Economic Development, said the EDC "has taken the position that we need some means to exit Carroll County efficiently."

Options include I-795 or improvements to Routes 97 and 32 to tie into I-70, he said.

Individual businesses and industries indicated that they haven't focused on a Westminster bypass.

Random House, a publishing company that operates a Westminster plant, has no position on a Westminster bypass, according to safety manager George Pavlik.

Marada Industries, which makes auto parts in Westminster's air business center, has been "inundated with new programs" and hasn't devoted attention to the bypass issue, said comptroller David Bailey. The company uses Route 140 to send parts to General Motors' Broening Highway plant in Baltimore.

Rick Coover, terminal manager for Roadway Express Inc., which operates a fleet of tractor-trailers out of Westminster, said his corporation "would enjoy any kind of bypass that would eliminate traffic lights."

Mr. Coover assessed traffic congestion on Route 140 as "nothing we can't cope with."

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