Balto. County asks for new interchange on Interstate 795 Expected congestion leads to call for new link at Pleasant Hill Road

July 29, 1998|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Worried that a spurt of development and the opening of a major road next month will aggravate traffic problems around Owings Mills Town Center, Baltimore County officials are asking the state to build a new interchange on Interstate 795.

Charles R. Olsen, the county's public works director, yesterday lobbied Gov. Parris N. Glendening after a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Pikesville for the interchange at Pleasant Hill Road, north of the Owings Mills Boulevard interchange. Later, Olsen said the interchange will be needed to handle traffic woes that are expected to worsen with the Aug. 24 opening of the Red Run Boulevard extension.

The three-mile, $11 million Red Run Boulevard extension will connect Franklin Boulevard to Owings Mills Boulevard -- creating a potential problem intersection in the heart of the town center.

"It's going to be congested in peak hours, and as time goes on, it's going to get worse," Olsen said. He added that projects -- including an 18-screen movie theater, a restaurant park, development of a 45-acre parcel near the Metro station and business parks for the Red Run Boulevard area -- will require a better road system in Owings Mills.

"We just need other access points for people along Red Run Boulevard to have access to 795 without going through the town center," Olsen said. "If you do nothing for access, you're looking at the system to fail in the foreseeable future."

He said county transportation officials will arrange a meeting with federal and state highway officials to explore environmental issues and plan for the project. Federal money would pay for much of the work.

Olsen said the interchange would likely be limited to drivers exiting from northbound I-795, and to drivers entering the interstate's southbound lanes. No cost has been estimated, he said, adding that construction probably is at least five years away.

The interchange is listed in the county's master plan, but it is not included in the state's road construction program. State Highway Administration spokeswoman Valerie B. Edgar said county officials broached the idea in a meeting with state transportation officials last fall but made no formal request. Those state officials are to meet with county highway engineers in October.

State Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, a Pikesville Democrat who also represents the Owings Mills area, said she would push for the interchange. "It's something we're going to have to look at and make a top priority," she said.

Despite the opening of I-795 and the Metro system, traffic problems also are growing worse on Reisterstown Road and other northwest Baltimore County roads, Hollinger said.

"Unless there's some relief there, it's going to look like the Long Island Expressway," she said. "That's not the quality of life we want for Baltimore County."

Pub Date: 7/29/98

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