Proposal to extend road has county seeing dollar signs White Marsh Blvd. plan could generate $6 million in taxes from development

August 06, 1996|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County economic development officials say a proposed extension of White Marsh Boulevard to Middle River could open large tracts of land for development, eventually creating more than 10,000 jobs and generating more than $6 million a year in county tax revenues.

The figures, presented yesterday by Economic Development Director Robert L. Hannon to a governor's task force studying the road extension, are based on the development of nearly 700 acres in the Essex-Middle River area during the next 30 years.

The county has lobbied for the extension for years to help revitalize the southeastern area, which has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs as plants cut back.

The six-lane road would extend from Pulaski Highway to Eastern Avenue, creating the opportunity to build warehouses, distribution centers, office parks and light manufacturing plants in some of the county's last vacant industrially zoned land.

Altogether, the county figures that almost 2,000 acres would be made more accessible by the Route 43 extension -- including the 1,000-acre A. V. Williams property proposed as the site for an auto racetrack.

Another task force appointed by the governor is studying the economic benefits of the racetrack. Both committees are to make recommendations to the governor this fall.

Highway officials said the state cannot pay for the $60 million to $65 million extension with traditional funding programs and is considering alternative financing.

"Funds are very, very tight right now and there are many, many needs," said Neil J. Pedersen, planning director for the State Highway Administration.

Alternatives being considered include surcharges that would be levied on parking, tickets and concessions at the racetrack; a special assessment bond to be paid by property owners who would benefit from the road; and county transportation bonds.

While state and county officials are trying to determine how to pay for the road, the developers of the proposed Essex International Raceway are trying to find a way to build the track.

Joe Mattioli, chief operating officer for Middle River Raceway Associates, described plans yesterday for a three-quarter-mile track with seating for 100,000 people. Although the developers originally said they would need to secure at least two major NASCAR races before committing to the project, Mattioli said they now plan to proceed without NASCAR dates.

In addition to the oval track, the developers plan a recreation vehicle park, an office complex, parking for 20,000 cars and, eventually, a hotel, conference center and arena.

The developers are awaiting environmental studies to determine how much of the 1,000-acre tract can be developed.

Pub Date: 8/06/96

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