Tale of two road battles Anne Arundel County: Residents contesting pair of projects saw much different outcomes.

August 20, 1996

TWO CITIZEN GROUPS met with different government officials to talk about road improvements earlier this month. A group of 250 Severna Park residents that met with Anne Arundel County Executive John Gary came away satisfied. Members of the Crofton Civic Association who met with the State Highway Administration, on the other hand, left fuming.

It would be easy to conclude that elected officials are, by condition, more responsive to citizen concerns than highway bureaucrats, but that reasoning would be flawed. While residents in both cases were concerned about modifications to roads in their communities, the similarities ended there.

At issue in Severna Park was the afternoon backup on eastbound Benfield Road at Jumpers Hole Road. Cars waiting to turn left onto Jumpers Hole clog traffic. To increase flow, county engineers proposed squeezing another lane in the 50-foot wide roadbed between Windward and Knollwood drives. That would create two left-turning lanes and move twice as many vehicles through the intersection as now. But the same Severna Park residents who on paper would be the beneficiaries opposed the widening. Thus, it was easy for Mr. Gary to drop the suggestion.

In Crofton, meanwhile, the conflict centered on the proposed widening of Route 3 from Crawford Boulevard to Route 450 East. State highway officials propose carving a lane in each direction out of the wide landscaped median on Route 3. Virtually all the shrubs and trees paid for by the Crofton Village Garden Club in the middle of Route 3 would be uprooted or destroyed, and the road will increasingly resemble an urban highway.

Crofton residents, to be sure, won't realize much benefit from these improvements. But motorists cutting across the county on Route 3 will. As a result, Crofton residents' local desires don't carry as much weight against broader statewide transit concerns. The SHA made that fact clear by waiting until the 11th hour to show the local contingent its plans.

What to conclude from this? If you argue against road improvements meant to help you, you stand a good chance of getting your way. If you argue against improvements designed to help others, you are unlikely to get your way.

Pub Date: 8/20/96

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