Route 32 can't stay the same Improvements needed to alleviate rush-hour bottlenecks, but noise is a concern.

June 25, 1998

ANYONE WHO travels west on Route 32 when it narrows from four lanes to two knows something has to be done about the bottleneck. It creates a rush-hour mess, and not just for motorists passing through. Residents in the Glenelg vicinity can't exit easily to get home.

The simple solution would be to widen the road, but many nearby residents are afraid of the result.

"We don't want that interstate freeway out here that they're proposing," says Debbie Izzi, a member of Citizens Alliance for Rural Preservation, a grass-roots group that is fighting the expansion.

That group would prefer to see a median with a turn lane installed, so that exiting Route 32 wouldn't back up traffic. But that's not among the State Highway Administration proposals.

One SHA idea is simply to resurface the nine-mile stretch of two-lane highway from Clarksville to Interstate 70. The two other SHA proposals would widen the road to four lanes. With an interchange at Nixon's Farm, the road widening would cost about $153 million; without it, about $139 million.

Howard County Councilman Charles C. Feaga, who represents the western part of the county, assured people at a public hearing last week that widening the road would not stimulate additional development. He said the surrounding land is either already developed, zoned for low-density development or committed to a land preservation program.

Some residents have said they might agree to the road widening if something is done to reduce the resulting traffic noise. But the sparsity of the population means the area does not qualify for highway noise barriers.

The highway administration ought to consider the feasibility of installing noise barriers of some type if the traffic volume makes it unbearable for residents along Route 32.

Perhaps SHA could use less expensive and more attractive buffers such as trees or berms to muffle the noise, as opposed to concrete walls in the countryside.

Pub Date: 6/25/98

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