Not-so-smart growth Howard County: State should include Route 216 in its funding plan, to prepare for huge developments.

November 16, 1998

STATE OFFICIALS have been trying to reassure their counterparts in Howard County that they will help fund construction of a highway link needed to realign Route 216. But talk is cheap. It's time for the state to make a specific cash commitment as its share of the $20 million cost of the road construction.

Residents have been complaining about the heavy traffic near Scaggsville and Fulton for years. Commuters driving between Interstate 95 and U.S. 29 in southeastern Howard County have to use two narrow, two-lane roads. Realigning Route 216 and making it a wider thoroughfare would cure current traffic problems and help ease future congestion.

Route 216 serves the North Laurel area where the Rouse Co. plans to build a mixed-use development that will include 1,200 houses and a number of commercial enterprises. A similar mixed-use development with more than 1,000 houses is planned for the Iager Farm in Fulton. A smaller residential development is planned for nearby Cherrytree Park. All these new homes and businesses will add up to a traffic nightmare unless Route 216 is improved.

But the project was not included in the state's preliminary draft of its six-year Consolidated Transportation Program. Transportation Secretary David L. Winstead said that doesn't mean the project won't be funded later. He said the state has shown its commitment to the project by funding its site acquisition and engineering phases.

Having spent that money, the state should go ahead and commit its share of the construction funds necessary to set target dates for this project. Officials don't have to guess whether future traffic volume will justify the realignment and widening of Route 216. With more than 2,000 houses and dozens of businesses xTC planned for that part of the county, it is time to prepare for the additional vehicles that will assuredly accompany those developments.

Pub Date: 11/16/98

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