Congestion solution only temporary

July 12, 1996|By Erica C. Harrington | Erica C. Harrington,SUN STAFF

Members of the Route 175-Snowden River Parkway Task Force have agreed to a short-term solution for congestion at the intersection, but the long-term goal of an interchange remained a point of contention between community and government representatives.

The task force Wednesday approved the addition of one through lane to northbound and southbound Snowden River Parkway at Maryland Route 175.

The new lanes would be added to the existing left-turn-only lanes and the optional lanes that allow drivers to turn left or go straight. The number of lanes in each direction would total three with the addition.

The lanes are the latest development in a long-running dispute between Long Reach and Owen Brown residents over how to handle the additional traffic brought to the area by the Columbia Crossing shopping center.

Village residents want an interchange to connect the roads, while some county officials champion a less expensive, though untested, dispersed movement intersection, which uses a series timed signals to move left-turning cars through the intersection.

The additional lanes on Snowden River Parkway provide an immediate remedy to the area's traffic woes.

The task force recommended the lane additions to the County Council July 1. The council will hold a public hearing on the lanes Monday at its regular meeting and vote on the recommendation July 25.

If approved, construction on the new lanes -- whose cost has not been determined but would be paid for by the county -- could begin in late August and be finished in late October or early November.

The task force also agreed to add a third lane to eastbound Route 175 between Snowden River Parkway and Dobbin Road and extend the right lane of westbound Route 175 1,500 feet beyond the Dobbin Road intersection. The State Highway Administration would design and pay for those improvements, which would begin in 1997.

But community representatives and government officials disagreed about adding fourth traffic lanes to Snowden River Parkway near the Route 175 intersection.

Long Reach and Owen Brown village board members fear adding lanes will relieve congestion at the intersection to a point LTC where the county will delay constructing an interchange there.

"If we have to sacrifice short-term convenience to start the interchange, we'd rather do that," said Jay Stearman, vice chairman of the Owen Brown village board.

But Ron Lepson, chief of the Howard County bureau of engineering, said further widening Snowden River with a fourth lane in each direction would allow the county and state to have more time to consider a long-term solution.

The task force will discuss what type of interchange to put at Route 175 and Snowden River Parkway at its next meeting July 24 at the Howard Bureau of Utilities Building, 8270 Old Montgomery Road.

Options for the intersection include a diamond interchange, a partial cloverleaf and the dispersed movement intersection.

Long Reach couple charged with cocaine possession

Howard County police charged a Columbia couple with possession of crack cocaine Wednesday after officers found drugs while searching a house in Long Reach village.

Anthony Butler, 34, and Tracy Diane Varner-Butler, 30, of the 8700 block of Airy Brink Lane were charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said.

The Butlers were released on an unsecured bond, a Howard District Court commissioner said.

Using a search warrant, detectives and patrol officers entered the couple's home about 9: 15 p.m. Wednesday and found 16 rocks of crack cocaine, items used to handle drugs and $110 in cash, police said.

Pub Date: 7/12/96

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