Sykesville seeks state money for roads and intersection to Warfield Complex Annexed property needs connections

June 11, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

As the town of Sykesville develops newly annexed property along Route 32, it is asking the state to build an intersection with the highway and help with a connector road.

In a meeting with the State Highway Administration (SHA) yesterday, Mayor Jonathan S. Herman called for a signaled intersection at a new road into the Warfield Complex. The town plans to develop the 138-acre site and renovate the 15 century-old buildings into an industrial complex.

"Road connections to the Warfield Complex are the most important part of the annexation," said Herman.

While the state maintains ownership of the property, once part of Springfield Hospital Center, it has allowed Sykesville to annex Warfield and plan its future. A weeklong session at the complex in April led to the road concept, proposed for about 800 feet north of Cooper Drive -- the best and safest way for highway traffic to access the property, Herman said.

Cooper Drive, the nearest existing intersection, would become an underpass serving pedestrian traffic, according to the concept plan.

"We would like residents to be able to come and go freely from the town to Warfield," said Herman.

Herman provided SHA officials with a map detailing the proposed road that would connect to Third Avenue at the north end of the town and continue across the highway to the Warfield property. If the intersection and connector road are built, the state could close the Springfield Avenue intersection, where several accidents have necessitated a temporary traffic light.

Fairhaven Retirement Community, which owns property on both sides of the highway, has offered land and money for the project. A new road would give 400 residents and 500 employees at Fairhaven more direct and safer access to the highway, said Greg Burgan, vice president and treasurer of the community, which has set aside $200,000 for the project.

"Wherever the road needs to cross over, we will make the land available," said Burgan. "It is important that we have a safe intersection."

Fairhaven is also considering relocating its corporate headquarters to property adjoining Warfield. Without a timely decision, Herman fears Fairhaven would look elsewhere for its new offices.

Any decision to build depends on funding, said Parker Williams, state highway administrator. The state allocated $400,000 to improving a single town intersection with the highway -- there are four now -- several years ago and will not renege on that commitment, officials said.

Preliminary engineering estimates for the proposed intersection are $800,000 with another $1.5 million needed to build the road.

"We are all avoiding the real discussion of who pays," Williams said. "I don't see the state putting dollars into a signaled intersection and also an underpass. There is a redundancy there and we wouldn't do both."

David L. Winstead, secretary of the state Department of Transportation, noted "the horrendous needs of the state's existing infrastructure" that impede funding for new projects. But, he said, the Warfield project meets the governor's Smart Growth and economic development criteria.

"We are not backing away from our commitment," Winstead said. "We are willing to be, and should be, a major player. The project requires a partnership of town, county, state and development interests."

The state would contribute to the road costs and is willing to work with the town and Carroll County on the project, Williams said.

Neil J. Pedersen, director of the office of planning for the state Department of Transportation, asked for a traffic study that includes projections of a fully developed Warfield. "We need more technical work and solid engineering cost estimates," he said.

A town with an annual budget of $1.5 million can ill afford engineering studies that will not have long-term benefits, said Herman.

The town pushed state officials for a timetable.

"To market Warfield, we have to know what is going to be here," said Matthew H. Candland, town manager.

The mayor hopes to meet soon with the governor and other state agencies involved in Warfield's development.

"This is an early stage discussion, but we need to know what hoops to jump through," Herman said. "Give us direction."

Pub Date: 6/11/98

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