Northern path chosen for Route 140 bypass

March 13, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Nearly a decade after it was first discussed, the State Highway Administration has chosen a northern route for the Route 140 Westminster bypass.

The selection is sure to disappoint residents of the Lucabaugh Mill Road area, who for 18 months have fought the northern route, one of six options that were considered. But the proposal has the support of local businesses and the county and city governments.

State Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff also has endorsed a short-term plan to ease traffic congestion on Route 140 by widening it to four lanes in each direction between Route 97 north and Route 97 south.

The decisions, announced Monday night at the Westminster City Council meeting, don't guarantee state financing by a particular date, project manager R. Suseela Rajan said yesterday. But the bypass route and the Route 140 widening are now identified as the state's plans, ending nine years of discussion, information meetings and public hearings.

"When you're running a race and you have three hurdles to go over, at least you're over one hurdle," said Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster planning director and a member of the focus group that considered bypass routes and improvements to Route 140.

The remaining two hurdles are scheduling the projects for engineering design and construction financing, Mr. Beyard said.

Ms. Rajan said the choices will not be final until the Federal Highway Administration approves them. She said they will be submitted for federal review after the SHA and historical planners work out a way to mitigate the impact of an interchange west of Hughes Shop Road on the historic Roop's Mill area.

The bypass route will lead east from that interchange, turning south at a Route 27 interchange, crossing Brehm Road, Tannery Road and the West Branch of the Patapsco River, then turning southeast and merging with existing Route 140 one mile west of Reese Road.

It could be 15 to 20 years before a Westminster bypass is built, "but I don't think it'll be that long," said Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan. "I think there's going to be pressure before that."

County planners project that the population of Westminster and its surrounding area, now 32,000, will grow to 40,000 by the year 2005.

Pub Date: 3/13/96

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