Commissioners cut traffic study cost Report could speed Route 32 expansion

April 24, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The Board of County Commissioners shaved $31,500 yesterday from the cost of a proposed traffic study in the Freedom District corridor that could accelerate state plans to make Route 32 a four-lane highway.

The study is essential because such traffic reports are tied to land use and the rapidly growing Eldersburg area could be built out within four years, Marlene Conaway, the county's deputy planning chief, told the commissioners.

"We're trying to finish the land-use plan down there this year," she said. "If you develop in one place, you need to know how it will impact the whole network of roads. We need to know what happens, for example, if [Route] 32 doesn't go four lanes. We need to look at this as soon as possible, within three to four months."

State Highway Administration officials have said they will speed up construction of additional lanes on Route 32 if the county goes ahead with the study, Steve Horn, the county transportation planner, told the commissioners.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said he had no quarrel with the idea of the study but that he wondered why Mr. Horn couldn't do it himself and save the county even more money.

As originally proposed, the study would have cost $100,000. The version scaled down by Mr. Horn at the request of the commissioners will cost $68,500. Mr. Dell, who had hoped to spend even less, said, "I don't like to spend money on something that Steve could do better."

Mr. Horn said he is already working on other projects in Taneytown, Hampstead and New Windsor. "My big concern is time," he said. "This is our best bet for getting something done in a fairly short time frame."

Because of his work on other projects, he does not have the time to collect the data required for the Freedom study, especially the traffic counts, Mr. Horn said.

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said that although the commissioners had asked Mr. Horn to trim the project, he wondered whether the cuts were "penny wise and pound foolish." His main concern, he said, was that Mr. Horn might privately wish later that he had spent $12,000 more to get more accurate data.

"In fairness to the people in the Freedom area, we need to do it right," Mr. Brown said. "If all the information is really needed, go ahead with it. Tell us straight out. Are you at a comfort level where you can do the job and do it well" despite the cuts?

"This is basically what we need," Mr. Horn said.

" 'Basically' is the kind of equivocation that worries me," Mr. Brown said.

"If I can get the vote today, I can do it" for the $68,500, Mr. Horn said.

The commissioners then voted immediately and unanimously to accept the revised proposal.

Pub Date: 4/24/96

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