Commissioners' letter presses case for bypass

Officials ask governor to reconsider rejection of road to shift traffic

May 26, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote and Mary Gail Hare | Brenda J. Buote and Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll County is grateful for state aid and proposals to improve traffic flow along Main Street in Manchester, but local officials still see a bypass as the long-term solution to ease congestion.

In a letter to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, the county commissioners say they support proposed improvements of the town's Main Street and ask for timely implementation. But they also "implore" the governor to reconsider his decision to scrap the bypass -- a road Glendening has repeatedly refused to fund.

The county envisions a two-lane bypass with limited access, decreasing the cost of the $70 million bypass and helping separate local and commuter traffic.

Manchester, a town of 3,200 at the northern end of the county, must cope with ever-growing numbers of Pennsylvania commuters who are clogging its main thoroughfare. About 18,000 vehicles travel along Main Street (Route 30) each day, according to state highway figures.

The town's proposal for a two-lane bypass was killed in January because it was deemed inconsistent with the governor's Smart Growth initiative to limit suburban sprawl.

"We want to encourage funding of Main Street improvements in Manchester, but also, we want to support the two-lane roadway," said Steven Horn, county planning director.

Horn and Manchester Mayor Christopher B. D'Amario met with state officials at Town Hall yesterday to discuss several proposed improvements to Main Street.

A handful of business owners and residents, including Carroll Republican Del. Joseph M. Getty, attended the meeting.

Many of the proposals would help move traffic through downtown, greatly reducing rush-hour congestion on Route 30 and eliminating the need for a town bypass, state transportation officials said.

One of the alternatives outlined by Cathy Romero, project engineer for state highways, was to create roundabouts, or traffic circles, at the north and south ends of Manchester.

Other options include the construction of left-turn lanes at Westminster and York streets and the creation of a through lane on Route 30 to prevent backups behind turning vehicles. Those proposals would eliminate as many as 20 parking spaces on the east side of Main Street, causing concern among business owners who say parking is at a premium.

"We're so worried about trying to move traffic through town, we've lost sight of the fact that there are businesses trying to stay in town," said Faith Fuhrman, owner of the Dutch Corner restaurant. "These improvements aren't helping anybody except those who go through town and don't stop to spend money."

The proposed options would cost an estimated $6 million to $7 million and would accommodate projected population growth in Manchester as well as southern Pennsylvania, Romero said.

In addressing residents' quality-of-life concerns, Romero said vibrations from large trucks could be reduced by reconstructing roads and sidewalks.

The options for improvements to Main Street will be discussed at a public meeting next month. D'Amario said he hopes to schedule the meeting for June 28.

Pub Date: 5/26/99

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