Truck route is favored over bypass

February 15, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

New Windsor has abandoned plans for a bypass and is setting its sights on a truck route that will reduce traffic on Main Street and at several dangerous intersections.

The route would make a loop of less than one mile from Route 31 at Church Street north behind the Brethren Service Center to Route 75 at Atlee Avenue. Plans call for extending Atlee south to High Street.

A low speed limit would help keep down the cost of the road, which would follow the town's grid system, said Steve Horn, county transportation planner.

Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. called the proposal "a preliminary plan with a lot of thought. It's an option for the town to consider."

Truck traffic, which the State Highway Administration rates as high, has been the bane of Carroll's smallest town for years. Residents complain about constant noise and truck damage to homes.

Church Street, which runs parallel to Main, has been closed to trucks for several years. All trucks must use Main Street (Route 31), which is lined with some of the town's oldest homes, to get to Route 75.

As Lehigh Portland Cement Co. makes plans to expand its plant in Union Bridge and several new developments begin construction, truck traffic will increase.

In an informal survey of his constituents, Mayor Gullo said he found traffic to be their major concern.

The proposed road would allow the town to close Main Street to trucks, provided the State Highway Administration gives its approval. A truck route could help in efforts to revitalize the street and make it more congenial for pedestrians.

It also would eliminate three troublesome intersections at Springdale Road, Route 75 and High Street, which are difficult for large trucks to maneuver.

Although it would traverse property owned by the Brethren Service Center and a farm in the environmental protection area, the proposed route would have no impact on any buildings. No wetlands or streams would be affected. If the town proceeds with the plan, it would close a small section of Springdale Avenue and deed it to the center.

For years, the town's master plan included a state-funded bypass to link Routes 75 and 31 north of the town.

"We all realize that is not feasible to build," said Mayor Gullo. "No town is without a bypass plan. We all stand in line for state projects and they are never built."

With state funding seriously depleted, a New Windsor bypass is "a long shot at best" and far down on the state priority list, Mr. Horn said.

Costs for the truck route, part of which would be outside the town, depend on several design factors, he said. He estimated about $1 million for a three-mile road, far less than $8 million for a bypass.

Mr. Horn envisions a 25-mph two-lane road with 12-foot travel lanes and 4-foot shoulders on either side.

"We would not give trucks a raceway to get around town," Mr. Horn said.

The Town Council looked at the proposal last week and members were enthusiastic, the mayor said. The Planning Commission will see it later this month.

"We are showing that we care about our problems and are willing to do something," said Mayor Gullo. "We would like to get this road on our master plan."

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