Local funding for state highways Private-public partnership could prod state to build Hampstead bypass.

November 14, 1995

YOU GOTTA PAY to play, state transportation officials told Hampstead this month as the east Carroll community renewed its plea for state funding for a badly needed Route 30 downtown bypass.

"It would have a dramatic impact" said Hal Kassoff, the State Highway Administrator, if local government and private interests could contribute toward the $35 million cost. The state has begun engineering work on the 5.8-mile southwestern bypass but has not committed money for land acquisition or construction.

The state may pay for the two-lane road, which SHA agrees is needed, but not for several years. If the county and Hampstead want more immediate results, they might put together local funding and land donations to help encourage state action, state authorities suggested.

That's not a bad idea, even though it smacks of buck-passing on meeting state highway needs. The bypass would increase the value of industrial land lying along its route, including parcels owned by the county and the hospital. It would relieve the egregious gridlock that traps traffic in the downtown Main Street business district, stifling commercial activity. And it would make that portion of Route 30 safer for motorists trying to squeeze into the solid rush-hour jam that stretches through Manchester to southern Pennsylvania.

State transportation officials did not make any promise in their meeting with local authorities and citizens. But they strongly suggested that the private-public partnership would be persuasive. They pointed to a similar plan in Frederick County, where the Woodsboro community came up with $3 million of the $5 million cost of a one-mile bypass, which got prompt state funding.

Hampstead business leaders seem warm to the suggestion. So do Carroll planners, who rate it a top economic revitalization project for the county. The idea of property owners donating their land along the bypass route in exchange for a shared access road appears a workable plan. The state worries that land acquisition costs are too high, amounting to half the $35 million total cost; land donations would ease that cost and concern.

On the drawing board for two decades, the Hampstead bypass needs a local foot on the accelerator to get out of this traffic jam.

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