Manchester Bypass Gets on Track

January 31, 1995

For the beleaguered residents of Manchester and commuters who navigate to and from work on Route 30, it is welcome news that Gov. Parris Glendening has included $1 million to begin engineering studies for a Route 30 bypass. The bad news: Actual construction may not begin until the next century.

By including the bypass in his budget, Mr. Glendening is putting this long-delayed project back onto the list of priority highway projects. Del. Richard N. Dixon, a Democrat who chairs the House capital budget subcommittee, deserves much of the credit for accomplishing what had been considered the impossible.

Ever since the 1970s, when Manchester city officials opposed the bypass, the state highway department basically removed it from its list of potential projects.

"It wasn't even on the back burner," Mr. Dixon noted. However, with the added traffic during the past decade, county officials tried to revive the project. They had little success. State highway officials focused on what they considered more pressing road needs.

In meetings with highway officials, county officials stressed the importance of reviving the proposal. At first, the state paid little heed to Carroll's pleas that the bypass was necessary to alleviate congestion in Manchester. But Mr. Dixon's advocacy and influential position in the General Assembly apparently made an impression. The county delegation also helped its cause by linking the Manchester bypass to the proposed Hampstead bypass, which is much closer to construction because engineering and design work is nearly complete.

Any progress on the Manchester bypass isn't likely to move fast enough for the thousands of commuters who travel the route each day. The General Assembly must approve the money included in the budget. The highway department needs to engage the private engineers to do the work. In addition, there are at least three years of design and engineering work ahead.

It may take another several years to acquire the land and conduct all the necessary public hearings. The final and most difficult hurdle will be obtaining the money for construction. Despite these obstacles, the project is closer to becoming a reality than it was at this time last year.

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