Expansion of Route 32 being fought

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

Western Howard County residents 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.

A group of about 25 residents armed with pads, pens and the NTC State Highway Administration's orange brochure detailing the plan gathered Wednesday night at St. James United Methodist Church in West Friendship. Though no specific strategies came from this first meeting, residents shared their concerns.

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

The proposed road expansion would complete the 40-mile Patuxent Freeway connecting Annapolis to Interstate 70. State officials deem the road an important regional road for moving drivers 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 already existing two lanes between Route 108 and I-70.

The plans also call for six controlled-access intersections in the nine-mile stretch of road. If approved, the project would cost between $128 million and $148 million, paid for by the state.

But the added travel convenience for residents in other counties 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 expanding the next leg of Route 32 because of environmental damage she feels 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 added that expanding the highway would only encourage more traffic through the area rather than alleviating current traffic 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 map out its strategy for opposing the road expansion.

Pub Date: 7/19/96

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