Upgrading of routes to I-70 urged Aim is to ease commuting in southern sections

OK from Howard needed

Unsure of state funds, Carroll could pay part of building costs

November 19, 1995|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,SUN STAFF

The county must begin planning road improvements in South Carroll to ease traffic jams for commuters heading to Interstate 70, the county's transportation planner has recommended.

Improvements to Routes 32 and 97 would make a north-south commute in Carroll smoother and reduce congestion at the intersection of Routes 32 and 26 in Eldersburg.

"This is one of our major growth areas," transportation planner Steven Horn told county commissioners last week.

The projects with highest priority are:

* Widening Route 32 from Obrecht Road south to I-70 to four lanes from two. Obrecht Road should be improved to serve as a "cross-country connector" between Routes 32 and 97, Mr. Horn said. He also said he did not know the cost of the project.

* Relocating Route 97 from Liberty Road south to I-70 to improve the road and encourage more commuters to use it. Route 97 would remain a two-lane road.

The county has been protecting land for the road relocation since the early 1960s, Assistant Planning Director K. Marlene Conaway said. The county owns or has protected from development about half of the land needed, Mr. Horn said.

"We've made a commitment to some degree: to build the road, he said.

Plans call for the new Route 97 to be moved just east of the existing road from south of Route 26 to Hoods Mill Road, Mr. Horn said. From Hoods Mill Road into Howard County, the new road would be just west of the existing road, he said.

The relocation project would cost $25 million to $30 million, Mr. Horn said.

For either project, Carroll needs cooperation from Howard County officials because Route 32 and Route 97 pass through Howard before connecting with I-70.

Carl Balser, chief of transportation planning for Howard County, said he is aware of both projects but that neither is a priority for his county.

Howard officials are planning to widen Route 32 from I-70 south to four lanes to handle commuters heading to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Annapolis and elsewhere, he said.

Improving Route 32 north of I-70 is not as critical, Mr. Balser said.

Mr. Horn said state highway officials have organized a meeting with Carroll and Howard planners in mid-December to discuss the projects.

Carroll Planning Director Philip Rovang recommended that county officials "work hard" to persuade Howard officials to support the project.

Mr. Horn said the widening of Route 32, because it is less expensive, is likely to occur before Route 97 is relocated.

State money for road projects is uncertain, so Carroll County may have to pay part of the cost for both projects, Mr. Horn said.

"It's got a greater likelihood of going forward" if the county contributes, he said.

The commissioners did not take any action on Mr. Horn's recommendations.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell expressed concern that upgrading Route 97 would attract development to Carroll County, as Interstate 795 did.

"I think they're coming anyway," Mr. Horn replied.

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