Bartlett says input needed from highway officials in post office dispute Access to site causes concern among residents

November 26, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

It may take the State Highway Administration to break the impasse between Carroll County and the U.S. Postal Service.

U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, who agreed to help mediate the conflict and who organized a meeting yesterday in Eldersburg, found that most residents do not object to the location of the post office, but rather to where traffic from the site would access the highway.

"We can't culminate this discussion without [the Highway Administration]," said Bartlett, a 6th District Republican, who called for another meeting next week to which he will invite SHA officials.

A much-needed post office for the Sykesville-Eldersburg area is being delayed until access to a 3-acre site in the Eldersburg Business Center is settled.

Local residents want access from Route 32 and Progress Way, an intersection that has no traffic signal. The Postal Service chose a site nearby at Route 32 and Bennett Road, where there is a traffic light.

Since Progress Way is within 800 feet of Bennett Road, it is too close for the state to erect another traffic light. The state also wants to limit traffic lights on the highway, which could become the county's major route to Interstates 70 and 95.

Postal officials claim the county steered them to Bennett Road, their second choice in the same business complex. They had originally favored the lot at Progress Way until the county cited the lack of a signal and rejected that option.

Although they have not purchased the property, postal officials have made plans to build an entrance onto Bennett Road and a second road to Progress Way.

"We switched sites at considerable expense," said Philip E. Wilson, manager of the postal facilities service office in Columbia. "We can't do it again."

Area residents insist there be no access onto Bennett Road and that all postal traffic be diverted to Progress Way.

Traffic from the post office -- estimates are as high as 900 trips a day by customers and postal employees -- would have a severe impact on the two-lane residential road, residents said.

Many said their deeds stipulate that no traffic from the business center will use Bennett Road.

Although funding for an Eldersburg post office could be diverted to another project, Wilson said he would delay purchasing the property at least until the next meeting. "It is already late, and we don't have funding much longer," he said. "We should have been under way."

Once ground is broken, the building could be operational in about six months. An aging, overcrowded building in downtown Sykesville now serves the nearly 28,000 residents of South Carroll.

"This is a time issue," said Gordon Seabury, postal official. "We have people working in closets at the Sykesville Post Office and we have just added two more routes. We cannot continue to delay. We need something done quickly."

Neil Harrington of Springmount Way said he wants more than traffic counts to go into the final decision.

"We need a post office. There is also an aesthetics issue. We want this building to look just like the rest of the business park," Herrington said.

"We won't put up an eyesore," said Wilson. "We can do screening."

Pub Date: 11/26/96

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