Owens might drop last phase of Arundel project

Residents fear boulevard could be dangerous

November 25, 1999|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Saddled with a 31-year-old project she inherited when she took office, Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens has promised residents living near the East-West Boulevard project that she will consider abandoning the third and final phase of the construction.

Owens met with residents of the Lake Waterford, Brittingham and Pasadena neighborhoods Tuesday night in Pasadena to hear their opinions and concerns about the project, which would connect Veterans Highway to Route 2. Nearly two-thirds of the project has been completed.

"I'm here to learn," Owens told the packed auditorium at Pasadena United Methodist Church. "I am here to listen to you."

For the residents, it was a last chance to persuade Owens to reconsider completing the project.

Many said that if East-West Boulevard is completed, it will make the troublesome intersection of Pasadena Road and Route 2 more dangerous and increase traffic on Pasadena Road by 50 percent.

A mother of three young children who lives on Pasadena Road said that with an increase in traffic and no sidewalk, it would be too dangerous for her children to walk to school.

"I want to know how a 50 percent increase will improve the quality of life for my children," she said.

At one point, Owens asked whether anyone favored the road.

No one responded until a man finally yelled, "You've got to be kidding."

Catherine Krause, who helped organize the gathering, said the meeting was a success because it gave residents a chance to express their opinions to Owens.

"She listened, and that's all we asked her to do," Krause said.

The East-West Boulevard project has been in the works since 1968 when it was included in the county's general development plan. Costs and construction of the first phase, between Veterans Highway and Governor Stone Parkway, were divided between the developer of Shipley's Choice and the county. It was finished in 1994.

Construction of phase two, which links Governor Stone Parkway with Jumpers Hole Road, began last year. About 90 percent of the work is complete, as is part of the roundabout at Jumpers Hole, said John Morris, county land-use spokesman.

Morris said the county has spent about $10 million on the project. Completing the second and final phases would cost an additional $4 million.

Construction of phase three, which runs from Jumpers Hole to Route 2, is scheduled to begin in the winter or spring, but Morris said, "We have not advertised for a construction contractor."

Owens told the residents that she will take a driving tour of Pasadena Road and consult with her staff before deciding whether to finish the project. "I've got to go back and take a look at it," Owens assured them.

Yes or no, she said, she would come back and tell them in person.

Morris said a decision should be made by Jan. 16.

The completion of East-West Boulevard would ease traffic congestion on Benfield Boulevard, which would bring some relief to Severna Park residents. Albert Johnston, a member of the Greater Severna Park Council, said the project has been in the works for years and should be completed.

"It's like building a road in the middle of nowhere and just leaving it there," said Johnston, who has served as president of the council three times since the start of the project. "Without phase three, it never would have been started."

While the Greater Severna Park Council has been fighting for the project, some Pasadena residents fear it will add more congestion on Catherine Avenue.

State Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, Del. Joan Cadden, Del. John R. Leopold and Del. Mary M. Rosso, have expressed opposition to the completion of the project in their district. County Councilwoman A. Shirley Murphy, also opposes the project.

"We maintain our position that Pasadena Road and Catherine Avenue cannot sustain more traffic," Jimeno said at the meeting.

He said he was optimistic that Owens might reconsider the completion of the roadway. The county executive, he said, will take human impact into account when doing her research.

"I think she laid it all out for them and did give them some degree of hope," Jimeno said.

Pub Date: 11/25/99

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