FEELINGS have been bruised, civic pride wounded, but that's no reason to stop working to ease traffic jams on Route 30 as it cuts through Manchester and Hampstead.
The governor supports a $35 million bypass of the state highway for Hampstead, but a $70 million bypass for Manchester is unacceptable because it would promote development sprawl. A couple of miffed Manchester council members propose a dog-in-the-manger approach: try to kill Hampstead's bypass out of spite. The Carroll County commissioners, meanwhile, grumble about Annapolis politics.
Instead, Manchester should earnestly work with state planners to find another solution to the heavy traffic that rumbles along narrow Main Street. The bypass is again on hold, perhaps permanently.
One proposal to cut the heavy trucking and commuter traffic from Pennsylvania is to use existing roads north of Manchester to form a connector-feeder system into Baltimore County. The town would see less southbound traffic on Route 30. And the Pennsylvania traffic could be channeled to a less-congested route into Baltimore County, where most of that traffic is headed.
Dollars and details are being worked out. But the work would cost a lot less than $70 million.
Of course, northbound traffic through the town would not be diverted. And there is ample worry that the Hampstead bypass would worsen traffic in Manchester, just 2 miles north.
Maybe a future governor would approve a Manchester bypass, maybe not. The Smart Growth criteria are vexingly imprecise. But the Manchester bypass is not a high state priority; until 10 years ago, town merchants vehemently opposed it. Manchester must move ahead on traffic-relief alternatives. Money is available from the bypass funds, and the town should get the benefit now.
Pub Date: 3/31/99