Officials seek to include Route 97 in traffic study

County wants to improve safety, lessen congestion

March 16, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll officials will ask the state today to expand a traffic study of Route 140 to include Route 97 north - to reduce congestion and improve safety along the heavily traveled route outside Westminster.

The county will make its request as the state begins designing improvements to Route 140, west of the county seat. Plans for road widening and additional turn lanes are only for Route 140.

As those improvements proceed, traffic will become heavier on Route 97, particularly in heavily developed areas north to Pleasant Valley Road.

"Absent a Westminster bypass, improvements to Route 140 could have a negative impact on Route 97," Steven C. Horn, county planning director, said yesterday in a meeting with the county commissioners.

"At this point, only Route 140 is in the state design study. We would like to include 97, too. At least, we can talk to the state and see what it costs."

Horn said he expected to discuss expanding the study today in a meeting with state transportation officials.

The commissioners said they would be willing to contribute to the cost of the study, which has not been determined.

"It is always worth looking into these studies," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge.

The county and state are sharing the $800,000 cost of a similar study of a 7-mile stretch of Route 26 in Eldersburg, one of the county's most congested and accident-troubled roads.

During the session with Horn, the commissioners also reviewed proposed amendments to the yet-to-be-adopted Freedom Plan, which will guide growth in the South Carroll area.

Officials acceded to the demands of several residents for a public hearing on the changes before further action is taken.

The county held a hearing that drew about 500 people two years ago, when the plan was made public. Residents have said the original plan has been altered considerably and they want an opportunity to comment.

"You have made substantial changes and you should let the public comment," said Phil Bennett of Eldersburg.

Residents are particularly concerned with the proposed boulevard district zoning that would apply to Routes 26 and 32, Eldersburg's main arteries.

The county has not imposed the land-use designation, which officials envision as a way to integrate commercial and industrial development into existing communities.

"Each person sees the boulevard district as something different," said Donna Slack of Eldersburg. "Until it is actually defined, you don't know what it will be. It could just allow everything to develop commercially."

In other news, the commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to change the name of Macbeth Way Extended, south of Brangels Road, to Prothero Drive. The name honors Sgt. Bruce Prothero, a Baltimore County police officer slain during a jewelry store robbery. Prothero had lived in Eldersburg with his wife, Ann, and their five children.

The change was requested by Freedom Area Citizens Council and Ann Prothero.

"The Fire Department is comfortable with the change and the county attorney has OK'd it," Horn said. "This is something the county can proceed with."

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