The State Highway Administration is inviting Westminster-area business and community leaders to be part of a group to study ways to improve traffic flow on Route 140.
"The idea is to brainstorm," District Engineer Douglas R. Rose said yesterday.
SHA officials came up with the idea for a focus group after many residents opposed a Route 140 bypass and suggested the state improve the existing road instead of building a new one, Mr. Rose said.
The group will look at proposed alternatives for a bypass, suggestions from the citizens group Carroll Life and new ideas, SHA Administrator Hal Kassoff said in a Dec. 20 letter to Carroll County Commissioners.
The commissioners reviewed the letter yesterday and suggested three members for the group -- Maryland Midland Railway President Paul D. Denton, who chairs the county Economic Development Commission; English American Tailoring Co. Chief Executive Officer Mark J. Falcone; and Carroll County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Helen C. Utz.
Mr. Rose said the group probably will have eight to 10 members. Neil J. Pedersen, the SHA's director of planning and preliminary engineering, is likely to be the chairman.
Mr. Rose said it had not been decided who would be named to the panel and when it would meet.
Paula Davidson, a member of Carroll Life, said the focus group is a good idea.
"All options ought to be thoroughly examined," she said. Members had not received formal notice about the group, she said yesterday. Her husband, Kenneth E. Davidson, is Carroll Life president.
Residents formed Carroll Life last year to oppose a Westminster bypass. The group has about 100 active members, many of whom live in one of the proposed bypass routes.
Mr. Kassoff said in his letter that SHA officials are studying a proposal from Carroll Life that the state build overpasses at busy intersections on Route 140, such as Route 97 North and South and Gorsuch Road. That would eliminate the need for traffic lights.
Commissioner Richard T. Yates said he was glad the SHA was listening to the citizens group's suggestions.
The focus group will study the effects of the proposed routes on local businesses, Mr. Rose said.
"We want to protect business interests on 140," he said.
The state has 10 options for improving traffic flow on Route 140, including northern and southern bypasses. A bypass would cost between $220 million and $250 million.
The Carroll Life proposal is a variation on an SHA option for improving the existing Route 140, Mr. Rose said.
The state suggested that cars be prohibited from crossing the Route 140 median and that one lane be added in each direction from Route 97 North to Old Baltimore Road. The cost would be $61.8 million and seven businesses would be affected, he said.
If a ramp were added to connect to Route 31, the cost would rise to $73.5 million and 13 businesses would be affected, he said.