Construction of a long-awaited $36 million Hampstead bypass could begin in three or four years, state highway officials said yesterday.
Engineering plans for a six-mile, two-lane road that would take Route 30 around Hampstead are 65 percent complete, said State Highway Administrator Parker F. Williams. Fifteen to 20 percent of the rights of way have been acquired, he said.
But when State Sen. Larry E. Haines, a Westminster Republican, pressed Williams for a timetable, Williams hesitated. The bypass is "not ready for construction," he said. "We will continue to do our best."
Funding "will be an issue" in next year's consolidated transportation program, a six-year listing of capital projects proposed statewide by the Maryland Department of Transportation, Williams said.
Haines said the Hampstead bypass has been an issue for more than three decades. Local residents and officials need to know something certain, he said. "Will construction begin in the year 2000?" he asked.
"Fiscal 2000," said Neil Pedersen, the State Highway administration's planning director, referring to the fiscal year that will begin July 1, 1999.
The exchange took place during the annual briefing that state Transportation Secretary David L. Winstead holds for the county commissioners, the county's mayors and the county General Assembly delegation each fall.
"I will take your concerns back to the governor," Winstead told Haines yesterday, but "we need to keep working on rights of way [acquisition] with the county."
The implication is that the Hampstead situation will be worked out one way or another. But the same could not be said of the Manchester bypass, a companion project on Route 30.
"That is not as far along," Williams said. The $50 million project, which would result in a four-mile, two-lane bypass taking Route 30 around Manchester, must be evaluated by the state planning department to determine whether it conforms to Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth objectives. Smart Growth is a program designed to control urban sprawl.
Pedersen said Smart Growth criteria would be applied to many large transportation projects throughout the state. "It would be premature to try to be specific about what the outcome would be" for any one of them, he said.
Manchester Mayor Elmer Lip- py, who sees the Manchester bypass as a necessary extension of the Hampstead bypass, was pessimistic.
"I'm disheartened," Lippy said. "I thought [municipalities] had an inside track" for state funding under Smart Growth.
Now, he is not so sure. "I came pessimistic and I leave pessimistic," he said after yesterday's briefing. "We'll make out somehow."
Republican Del. Nancy R. Stocksdale of Westminster expressed concern about a third project -- a proposed $200 million Westminster bypass. Stocksdale wanted to know if the highway administration has settled on a route yet for the nine-mile, divided four-lane freeway.
Landowners north of Route 140 from Reese Road to Hughes NTC Shop Road "have had their property tied up for years," Stocksdale said. "They are not able to sell it, build on it or do anything. You need to know what you've selected so they can get on with their lives."
Pedersen said the SHA's plan is to follow "basically the same route as three or five years ago." That proposal would affect only a historical property at the west end of the project, he said.
Winstead told Stocksdale that the state would hold additional hearings on the proposed bypass route if she wishes.
Pub Date: 11/04/97