Moving forward in Manchester

Carroll County: Congestion remedies need support, including from governor who opposed bypass.

May 10, 1999

MANCHESTER has a traffic congestion problem. Main Street can back up for a mile during rush hour. Left-turning vehicles block the roadway, as do parked cars along the sides. Downtown intersections rate as "failing." It's way past time to address this daily flow of 18,000 vehicles through the town of 3,200 residents.

If the 30-year-old plan for a bypass -- cost: $70 million -- is dead, then Manchester, county and state officials should move swiftly to choose other remedies.

A half-dozen options proposed by the Maryland Department of Transportation are a good place to begin. Town officials support the elements, estimated to cost only one-tenth the price of the bypass. Eliminating up to 20 on-street parking spaces to allow turning lanes on the Route 30-York Street intersection could be done by summer, if everyone agrees. That would be a major improvement, without much expense beyond highway striping. Downtown revitalization projects would accompany the work.

The rest of the package includes widening turns, extending turn lanes, speed-slowing traffic roundabouts at the Route 30 entries to Manchester and a landscaped parking lot off Main Street.

But the political games must end. Gov. Parris N. Glendening must prove his commitment to the project and put the money in the state budget. He has angered Carroll County with cancellations of state projects (including a Manchester bypass) on the grounds they promote sprawl.

The county commissioners should get behind the proposed enhancements, instead of dreaming that they will eventually get the bypass.

The state Board of Public Works may vote against the governor, but the bypass is still his sole decision and there's nothing to be gained by confrontation.

Manchester can ill afford further delays in action, without seeing further delays along Main Street.

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