Route 140 traffic rises 109% in decade, highest in Maryland

August 20, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

During the past decade, traffic along Route 140 into Carroll County has increased 109 percent, the highest among Maryland highways.

A new traffic study shows the volume of cars and trucks on Route 140 at the Baltimore County/Carroll County line has more than doubled since 1985. An average 42,339 vehicles a day travel Route 140 to and from Carroll County, compared to 20,279 in 1985.

"It correlates to traffic volume on [Interstate] 70 and it is the largest increase anywhere in the entire state," said Chris Letnaunchyn, a Carroll transportation planner. "There are more cars and more congestion on Route 140."

Transportation planners use the annual Maryland Highway Traffic Trends, published by the State Highway Administration, as a tool "to plan other roads or to divert traffic, if needed," he said.

County officials said the study underscores the need for the long-sought Westminster bypass. More than half of the county's 72,000-person work force travels outside Carroll for employment.

Neither the state nor the county has the money for a bypass.

"A recommendation for a bypass study has gone through nearly all the steps," said Roger Jorss, a SHA senior traffic forecaster. "The only thing we can do now is plan; we have no money. If we don't do anything, you are looking at a situation like Rockville Pike, which has 60,000 vehicles a day."

The traffic counter along Route 140, south of the Patapsco River, posted the highest percentage increase of the 67 traffic counters in the state. Although daily numbers are higher on other highways, nowhere are the 10-year percentages higher than Route 140's.

For example, daily counts are slightly higher along Interstate 70 east of Frederick, but the volume of traffic there increased by 54 percent to 43,137 vehicles a day.

Route 140 is handling a larger volume of traffic "than some interstates and without their limited access and off ramps," Letnaunchyn said.

Highway officials predicted traffic along Route 140 soon could surpass 50,000 vehicles a day, but said that number was manageable for the four-lane highway.

"Traffic on 140 rarely reaches complete gridlock," said John Concannon, acting assistant district engineer for traffic in Carroll, Frederick and Howard counties. "There is still some room for growth."

The SHA plans interim improvements to help maintain traffic flow. This summer, crews are resurfacing and patching Route 140, from Route 91 to Route 31.

"Everything is being done so that when we do add lanes, we don't have to tear up what we have already done," said Jorss.

County Commissioner Richard T. Yates said the study may change the minds of those who have been opposed to a Route 140 bypass. "It should raise more interest in improving 140 or building an acceptable bypass," he said.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said the numbers are unlikely to deter opposition.

Pub Date: 8/20/96

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