Commuters on Route 30 who endure the bumper-to-bumper traffic that jams Hampstead's two-lane Main Street every rush hour got a boost from the governor yesterday -- the promise of $5 million in state money to buy land for a 5.8-mile bypass.
"It's great that money has finally been allocated," Hampstead Mayor Christopher M. Nevin said. "Everyone recognizes the need for a bypass, and I am glad it's finally getting the recognition it deserves at the state level."
The $35 million bypass, which was first proposed by town officials nearly 20 years ago, would be a limited-access, two-lane road swinging west from the southern end of Hampstead and looping around North Carroll High School before returning to Route 30 north of Greenmount.
The engineering phase of the project began in August and is expected to be finished by February 1997, Mr. Nevin said. Once that has been completed, the state will know what land needs to be acquired and will have a reasonable estimate of the cost of buying it, he said.
Early projections put construction costs at $18 million and land-acquisition costs at $17 million.
Mr. Nevin said he would be "amazed if the cost of acquiring the land came anywhere close to the $17 million estimated figure."
The land along the proposed route is zoned for industrial use. But Hampstead officials say the land is nearly worthless to the land owners unless the bypass is built, providing access.
Mr. Nevin said at Thursday's meeting between the County Commissioners and the Hampstead Town Council that he expected to have a bypass committee in place by the beginning of next month to help keep State Highway Administration officials focused on completing the project.
Mr. Nevin said several volunteers have agreed to work on the committee. They will represent the town's businesses and the town of Manchester, which is seeking a bypass of Route 30 that would link up with the northern end of the Hampstead bypass.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening's announcement yesterday was part of a $511 million package added to the state Department of Transportation's capital program for fiscal years 1996 through 2001.
Mr. Nevin said he thought the state would provide $2.6 million for land acquisition in fiscal 1998 and $2.4 million in fiscal 1999.
Town officials are hoping that if the Hampstead bypass committee can help acquire the land, state transportation officials will assist in speeding money for construction of the bypass.
The possibility that the town might help expedite the project by securing private funding for land acquisition has been discussed and remains an option.
The governor also announced yesterday that the transportation package will include $570,000 for a new Motor Vehicle Administration registration center in Westminster.
Plans call for an MVA office to be built adjacent to the Maryland State Police barracks on Route 140, just east of the city line.
The office, which will be outfitted with computers, will not be full-service like those in Glen Burnie, Baltimore and Frederick, but it will offer more services than are available now, MVA officials said.
The local office has been in the Westminster Professional Center, off Route 140 near Gorsuch Road, since 1979. It offers only driver services, such as road tests and license renewals.