Ways to speed Hampstead bypass sought County may try to get private parties to pay part of construction

$35 million project

'Road club' suggested as way to reduce costs of land acquisition

November 12, 1995|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Hampstead officials applauded last week when the State Highway Administration said the town might speed construction of the long-awaited Route 30 bypass by footing part of the bill. Now they're wondering how to entice private interests to pay for part of the $35 million project.

Hal Kassoff, the state highway administrator, and David L. Winstead, the state transportation secretary, met with about 30 town officials and residents Monday, but left in the bumper-to-bumper evening rush hour without making any promises about paying for the 5.8-mile, limited-access, two-lane road that would swing west from Route 30 south of Hampstead and loop around North Carroll High School before returning to Route 30 north of Greenmount.

"We have no inkling what the state has in mind," Mayor Christopher M. Nevin. said "It's too early. We'll wait until we sit down with the secretary of transportation to discuss this in detail."

Mr. Nevin said state officials seemed concerned that $17 million of the projected cost is earmarked for land acquisition, which is out of proportion with other Maryland road projects such as the proposed U.S. 50 Salisbury bypass.

According to February estimates, the Salisbury project is expected to cost $62 million, with $11 million of that amount projected for land acquisition, a spokesman for the SHA said.

Hampstead, county and state officials say they don't know why the land acquisition costs for the Hampstead project are nearly as high as the projected construction costs.

Even if the land can be acquired quickly, no state money is budgeted for land or construction, Mr. Winstead said Monday.

Wayne N. Thomas, a Hampstead Town Council member who said he was speaking for himself, not as an elected official, said one way land costs might be reduced would be to form a "road club." He said property owners could agree to share costs by donating their land abutting the bypass in exchange for an access road.

That way, he said, one property owner in a group of owners would not have to pay for all access costs.

Two of the larger tracts of Hampstead land that would have to be acquired on the north end of the proposed bypass are zoned industrial and are owned by Carroll County Hospital and the county.

Mr. Thomas said he is convinced that the town can form a committee and get moving on acquiring the land for the bypass.

"Ideally, this [bypass project] is doable within five years, by 2001 or 2002," Mr. Thomas said. "If everyone is willing to cooperate [in the land acquisition phase], it may get done a lot quicker."

Business owners along Route 30 in downtown Hampstead, who once opposed the project, are now solidly in favor, said Todd A. Winebrenner, president of the Hampstead Business Association.

What has changed in the past 10 years is that businessmen no longer are afraid of losing money because customers would use the bypass and avoid town, he said. "The majority do not believe decreased commuter volume will keep people from experiencing Hampstead," he said.

Mr. Winebrenner called it a love-hate situation. "Business owners love the exposure a high-volume road affords, but at certain hours it's too busy."

Former Del. Richard C. Matthews, the owner of Matthews Tire and Auto Service, who retired last year after serving 28 years in the General Assembly, said Hampstead is so congested that he drives several blocks out of his way on back streets to commute from home to his business.

"You have to literally force your way into the line of traffic to pull onto Route 30," he said.

Another integral part of securing business support for the bypass has been the cooperative Main Street revitalization program, Mr. Thomas said.

"We want to show the state we are very interested in revitalizing industry and breathing new life into Main Street in our town," he said.

Mr. Thomas said he thinks Gov. Parris N. Glendening is committed to investing state money in any area that demonstrates that the investment is economically beneficial to the state.

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