Smart Growth again?

Carroll County: Governor's opposition doesn't kill bypass plans in Westminster and Manchester.

January 25, 1999

THERE'S little surprise in Gov. Parris N. Glendening's decision to veto long-planned bypass projects for Westminster and Manchester.

The governor wants to take a stand against state projects that violate Smart Growth rules enacted in 1997. A bypass, by definition, lies outside the established municipal core that is the target of Smart Growth.

The bypass decision is reversible. It may be no more than a delay, awaiting a new governor or action by the legislature or the Board of Public Works. Perhaps a legal challenge.

In any case, the loss of the two road projects for next year is not devastating. The Westminster bypass of Route 140 has been talked about for years without a firm commitment. Meanwhile, a portion of that state-owned highway in Westminster is being widened. That improvement should be studied before significant steps are taken toward a bypass.

Manchester has a legitimate beef that its Route 30 bypass is tied to the nearby (approved) Hampstead bypass. But the Manchester project has not been a state priority. The Hampstead bypass would improve north-south traffic flow. Perhaps Manchester and the state could use existing roads as alternate routes to bypass Main Street. Mr. Glendening said that bypass money would be offered communities, including others in Montgomery and Allegany counties and on the Eastern Shore, to find other options for easing traffic jams.

Whether a bypass around the congested main streets of towns such as Manchester help or hinder Smart Growth is an intriguing question. After all, it's hard to revitalize traditional commercial centers if people are afraid to shop or stop there because of gridlock. But the governor's halt to the bypass planning is more defensible than his scuttling the police training center in Springfield in the name of Smart Growth.

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