Road expansion opposed in western Howard Residents distressed by Route 32 proposal

July 19, 1996|By Erica C. Harrington | Erica C. Harrington,SUN STAFF

Residents of western Howard County, alarmed at the prospect of noise, traffic and environmental damage from an expanded Route 32, have begun a campaign to stop or alter the project.

About 25 residents armed with pads, pens and the State Highway Administration's orange brochure detailing the plan gathered Wednesday night at St. James United Methodist Church in West Friendship.

The group's first meeting resulted in no specific strategies.

"We can see [Route] 32, hear 32 and we hate 32," said Kathleen Gibson, who lives on Rutherford Way, which parallels the highway in Dayton. "We can't open the windows because it sounds like trucks are coming through my bed."

The proposed expansion would complete the 40-mile Patuxent Freeway connecting Annapolis to Interstate 70. State officials have deemed it an important regional road for drivers traveling from Frederick and Carroll counties to the eastern part of the state.

The SHA proposes adding two traffic lanes, a median and a shoulder to the two-lane road between Route 108 and Interstate 70.

The plans also call for six controlled-access intersections along the nine-mile stretch of road.

The project, which would cost $128 million to $148 million, would be paid for by the state.

The added convenience for residents of other counties is not sufficient reason to change the rural character of western Howard County, said Milton Borkowski, who lives in Ridgewood, near Glenelg.

"If anyone cared what Howard County wants, it's some improvement at the intersections, not the whole thing," he said. "If the point is to bring Carroll [traffic] through Howard County as a bypass, we have some basis to oppose a $150 million project."

Iona Conner, a Columbia environmental activist who organized Wednesday's meeting, said she is opposed to the expansion because of environmental damage she says occurred on the section between Pindell School Road and Route 108.

"When I saw what they did to 32 between Columbia and Clarksville, it broke my heart," she said. "We can have a few changes here and there, but we should look for the simple things and save a lot of money by keeping it modest."

Gibson said the proposed expansion would encourage more traffic through the area rather than alleviate congestion.

"If you build a road, truckers will use it," she said. "If you don't, they'll use a different road."

The group plans to meet again next week to decide on its strategy for opposing the expansion.

Pub Date: 7/19/96

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