State transportation officials have approved an estimated $185 million worth of projects to relieve highway congestion in Harford, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties and to improve service on the state's rail commuter lines.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening was expected to announce today plans to widen Interstate 695 in Catonsville, Baltimore County; construct an interchange along Route 32 near the National Security Agency near Odenton in Anne Arundel; and build an $80 million rail connection between the Penn Line and the Camden Line in South Baltimore.
In addition, state transportation officials announced plans to spend about $55 million over the next six years on Harford County highway projects, including a $30.8 million bypass north of Hickory that has been planned for 15 years.
Glendening was expected to announce most of the projects at a news conference in Bethesda today, prompting Republicans yesterday to question his motives.
"I think the timing is suspect," said Carol L. Hirschburg, a spokeswoman for Ellen R. Sauerbrey, Glendening's challenger in the gubernatorial election. "It's probably another attempt by Parris to use taxpayers' money to buy votes."
State officials say the Baltimore Beltway will be widened from three lanes to four near Catonsville between Route 144 and the U.S. 1 bridge. The $30 million project will begin in spring 2001 and take two to three years to complete.
The $15 million interchange along Route 32 near NSA will begin in spring 2002 and take two years to complete, state officials said.
Improvements to the 3-mile rail line connecting the Penn Line and the Camden Line will begin in late 2000 or in spring 2001.
The Penn Line runs between Perryville in Cecil County and Washington; the Camden Line between Baltimore's Camden Station and Washington.
State officials said the connecting line will be in South Baltimore on an existing freight line. The improvements should make it easier to schedule MARC trains, which now must be scheduled around CSX trains.
In Harford County, construction of the Hickory bypass will begin next summer and is scheduled for completion in 2002.
The bypass will extend Route 23 by about a mile and will relocate about two miles of U.S. 1 from U.S. Business Route 1 to an area north of Hickory.
State officials in Harford County also announced plans yesterday for a $3.6 million replacement of the Route 623 bridge over Broad Creek and $17 million for highway improvement projects, including resurfacing of Routes 22, 152 and 440 and U.S. 1.
George Harrison, a spokesman for Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, said the projects had been in the planning stages for years.
"There were really no surprises here with the announcements, other than finally moving ahead on the bypass," Harrison said.
Pub Date: 10/02/98