State funds revive Manchester bypass

January 20, 1995|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Nearly two decades after transportation planners first envisioned a Route 30 bypass around Manchester, the project looks like it will finally become a reality.

Del. Richard N. Dixon and Maryland highway officials announced this week that $1 million has been set aside to begin project planning, which will include environmental studies, mapping of historic properties and planning any alternate routes.

"I'm elated," Mr. Dixon said yesterday. "It's something we've been working on for a long time. This is very important for our county and very important for the Manchester area."

County and town officials said yesterday that the project, along with a bypass around Hampstead, was originally placed on the Carroll County master plan in the mid-1970s. But after residents objected to the proposed route to the west of Route 30, officials allowed subdivisions to be built there.

State officials then took the project off active status. The bypass slid further down the proposed projects priority list as Maryland experienced budget difficulties in the mid- to late-1980s.

Meanwhile, plans for the Hampstead bypass continued slowly forward. Project planning for that section was completed last year, although the design may need to be revised to protect the endangered bog turtle, said Gene R. Straub, assistant district engineer for traffic in the State Highway Administration District 7, which includes Carroll and Frederick counties.

"I thought they were silly objections at the time," said Manchester's Elmer C. Lippy, a former county commissioner who became the town's mayor several years later, in 1987.

"People said our main water supply was right down the hill [from the proposed route]," he said. "At the time, we could have moved the by pass, say, 100 yards to the west and the trouble would be ameliorated.

"But there's no use crying over spilled milk. I'm just happy to hear the money has been put in for planning."

As greater volumes of traffic between Pennsylvania and Baltimore began to clog Route 30, residents of both towns began to drum up support for the bypass projects.

"Any reasonable person understands that we need both bypasses to make this project succeed," Delegate Dixon said. "It's not realistic to have a bypass around one of the towns and not the other."

Current proposals include an S-shaped route that runs west of Route 30 around Hampstead, crosses the state highway in Greenmount and bypasses Manchester to the east.

"Part of the concern as the Hampstead bypass has begun to become a reality is that Manchester would become a dumping ground for the bypass traffic," said David Warner, Manchester's acting town manager.

"We'd like to bring the time lines of construction as close together as we possibly can," he said. "This puts the project back into the track. It was never that far before."

Planning money is expected to be spread over three years, with about $300,000 being distributed in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

State officials have tentatively budgeted $400,000 for fiscal year 1997 and $300,000 for fiscal year 1998.

"As far as planning funds are concerned, this represents a re-emergence of the Manchester bypass as an active project in the state's consolidated transportation program," said Steven C. Horn, the county's senior transportation planner.

"It's great news for the county and especially the citizens of Manchester."

While some are still fighting the project, most realize that is necessary and are supporting the bypass, Mr. Warner said.

"There is some opposition from people who think it will take business traffic away from Main Street," he said. "But most people think it will allow Manchester to become that small, quiet town that it used to be and the shops will enjoy renewed growth.

"I'm very, very pleased. I think the bypass is so important to the BTC future of Manchester and to life here in town. It's a rejuvenating asset."

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