County, state haggling over cost of signal Traffic light planned for Cranberry Rd., Rte. 27

September 03, 1997|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The County Commissioners will meet with State Highway Administration officials today to haggle over the cost of a traffic light to be installed at Cranberry Road and Route 27.

The signal was requested by the owners of two Westminster companies near the intersection -- English American Tailoring and Random House.

Both wrote the commissioners recently, saying that they were concerned about the safety of their employees and that they wanted improvements at the intersection.

The intersection passes tests needed for a traffic light, Steve Horn, Carroll's chief transportation planner, told the commissioners. "The discussion now is how we're going to pay for it," Horn said.

The county wants to pay no more than one-fourth of the cost, because three of the four roads at the intersection are state roads. But the state is looking for a 50 percent commitment from the county, Horn said.

The intersection will need "geometric improvements" -- lengthening the acceleration and deceleration lanes -- which is an expense the state wants the county to bear, Horn said.

Once a price is agreed to, the county would ask the state to expedite the project, Horn said. Carroll's portion of the cost could run $75,000 to $85,000, not including signal maintenance and energy costs, he estimated.

The county "does not maintain a single traffic signal or street light now" but probably would have to hire a specialist to do the work, county attorney George L. Lahey told the commissioners.

"If we're talking about one-fourth of the cost [of the overall project], it's not for us to maintain," said Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown.

The county portion of the costs of the intersection improvements would be borne by Carroll's Economic Development Department, an aide told the commissioners.

Brown said the commissioners "need to anticipate putting money into state roads" in future budgets to get the state to move more quickly on projects that have languished.

Horn supported that view, telling the commissioners he "would like to think that if we put [money] up, the projects would speed up."

But Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Richard T. Yates were lukewarm to the idea.

"Does it make sense to put aside money for state projects when we have to borrow for county projects?" Dell asked rhetorically.

"We're paying taxes to the state, and we deserve to get some of that back without a big fight over it," he said.

Yates feared the state would renege. "If we start putting up money for roads, the state is going to do the same thing they have done with schools" -- reduce the amount of state funding, he said.

Pub Date: 9/03/97

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