Road plans divide residents, merchants Bypass, widening debated in Lake Shore

December 08, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

It isn't exactly the Hatfields and the McCoys, but the question of what to do with the stretch of Mountain Road that runs through Lake Shore has caused its share of arguments.

Homeowners on the south side of the road support -- if half-heartedly -- a state plan to widen it. But some merchants with businesses along the road are backing a county councilman's proposal to build a bypass.

The business owners have called for a public meeting to discuss possible solutions at 7: 30 p.m. Tuesday at the Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Hall.

"The purpose of the meeting is to equip people who live along Mountain Road with the facts about widening it," said Chuck Holmes, manager of Special Days Cafe and one of the organizers. "Widening is a mistake."

But Sharon Long, an activist whose split-level home on South Carolina Avenue would be destroyed by a bypass, said she is enraged by the merchants' bravado.

"It is an insult to think that businesses are more important than the homes where people live," said Long, who, along with her husband, William, has raised two daughters in the house that they have lived in since 1966.

"All of us don't want to lose our homes because we've got way too much money in our homes, and we're too old to start over again," she said.

There are suggestions to help the 27,000 motorists who use Mountain Road to get on and off the Pasadena peninsula, including building a traffic circle and making the center left turn lane a westbound lane in the morning and eastbound in the evening.

But the two most popular -- and most contentious -- recommendations are widening the road and building the bypass.

The State Highway Administration has offered to add a lane to the eastbound and westbound sides of Mountain Road between Route 100 and Lake Shore Drive. The project, which is estimated to cost about $8 million and could be completed by 2002, is endorsed by the four-member District 31 delegation that represents Pasadena.

"The bypass would cause serious adverse impacts to neighborhoods and the environment," said Republican Del. John Leopold. "It would be an invitation to the county government to sell land to developers, and it would make things even worse."

Last February, Councilman Thomas W. Redmond proposed the bypass, a 2 1/2 -mile, two-lane parallel route that would link Magothy Bridge Road to Mountain Road between South Carolina and Maryland avenues.

Redmond said the $12 million bypass would divert about one-third of the daily traffic.

"When you compare them, there is no comparison," he said. "If we widen Mountain Road, there's still only one way in and one way out into the peninsula. And there's no way that people can pull out across five lanes."

Holmes, whose cafe is housed in the same building that his grandfather built more than 70 years ago, agreed. Widening the road could take away the front yards and parking lots of about 30 homes and 15 businesses, including his, he said.

Bypass opponents "can't prove to me that widening is going to help," he said.

"If you're going to take my land, show me that it will work."

But Pamela Smith, who favors widening the road, threatened to boycott store owners who support the bypass.

"I don't want to see people lose parts of their properties, but I really don't want to see people lose their homes," she said.

Pub Date: 12/08/96

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