Rail crossing construction to begin in the fall of 1997 State accelerates plans for Route 30 projects

February 14, 1996|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

State transportation authorities have told Hampstead officials that improvements to the two railroad crossings on Route 30 will be completed by the spring or summer of 1998.

Since money already has been allocated for projects elsewhere, state Secretary of Transportation David L. Winstead wrote Hampstead Mayor Christopher M. Nevin last week to advise that construction on the new crossings by CSX railroad crews could not begin sooner than the fall of 1997.

Mr. Nevin had requested last month that state officials help speed the project, originally scheduled to start in fiscal year 1998-1999.

Mr. Winstead said construction on the crossings will begin in the fall of 1997.

Mr. Winstead said concerns about possible delays or cancellation of the project were unnecessary.

"It's good news for the town," Town Manager Neil Ridgely said yesterday.

Route 30, also known as Main Street in Hampstead and Manchester and as Hanover Pike elsewhere in the county, carries commuter traffic between Reisterstown and Hanover, Pa. Traffic congestion during morning and evening rush hours often causes a quarter-mile backup from the traffic signal at the Roberts Field Shopping Center south to the railroad crossing near the Black and Decker plant entrance.

The current at-grade crossings have only flashing lights to warn motorists of trains.

Plans for the improved crossings call for overhead flashing lights, automatic drop gates and alarms.

CSX crews completed repairs last fall at the railroad crossing near the south end of town.

A traffic accident Nov. 12 damaged the warning lights and, until repairs could be made, all trains stopped before crossing Route 30 so a flagman could get off the train and stop traffic in both directions.

Town officials said five fatal accidents have occurred at that crossing in the past seven years.

All trains have a speed limit of 30 mph at the Hampstead crossings. Kenneth F. Russell, chief of the Hampstead Police Department, said the trains he has clocked with his radar gun all have been traveling 28 mph or less.

Most of the problems at the crossings stem from drivers trying to beat the trains, Chief Russell said.

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