Study predicts traffic increase at intersection

Plan to ease volume on Main Street would flood road extension

`Going to disrupt my life'

Lehigh cement firm supplied data

county to count cars in area

April 13, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare and Brenda J. Buote | Mary Gail Hare and Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The county unveiled a traffic study yesterday that shows dense truck and train traffic at an intersection to be built in Carroll's smallest town as part of a $5.5 million project to divert heavy trucks from downtown Union Bridge.

At peak morning and evening hours, the crossing of Shepherd's Mill Road and Route 75 could see as many as 143 trucks, 42 cars and six trains, according to a $1,400 county-funded traffic study. Buses from three area schools also have twice-daily runs along those roads.

"The worst case would be a train every 10 minutes and a truck every 2 1/2 minutes," said Frank Schaeffer, Carroll's deputy director of public works.

The State Highway Administration had called for the traffic study, limiting it to studying the potential for backups.

"We are not trying to analyze the full scope of traffic, but we have included factors for growth," Schaeffer said. "The numbers are specific to requests from State Highway."

The state required the study before allowing the county to add a 6,500-foot-long segment of Shepherd's Mill Road that will intersect Route 75 on the east side of town and divert truck traffic from Main Street in Union Bridge. Lehigh Portland Cement Co., whose trucks would use the road, provided much of the data. State and county money will pay for most of the road project.

Lehigh, which dominates the southern end of town, is expanding and building an entrance onto Quaker Hill Road. Its trucks would take Quaker Hill Road to Shepherd's Mill Road to Route 75.

"How valid is a survey that uses industry estimates from an industry that wants and needs this intersection?" Judy Smith, who lives on Hoff Road east of town, asked in a hearing with commissioners yesterday. "We should not have to suffer the consequences of industrial zoning. All the burden for these improvements is placed on us."

In the next few weeks, Schaeffer said the county would count traffic on Route 75, Hoff and Stem roads.

A narrow concrete bridge that traffic will cross is deteriorating and should be replaced or widened, Smith said. The state has tested the bridge and determined the weight it can carry, said Doug Myers, county director of public works.

"The bottom line is there is going to be more traffic," Myers said.

Elwood Myers, who is not related to Doug Myers and whose home is close to the intersection, replied, "The bottom line is this is going to disrupt my life."

In other business, the commissioners were told yesterday that the county Planning Department is exploring options for increasing the amount of sewage that can be treated in Hampstead.

Hampstead Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is owned and operated by the county, can treat about 900,000 gallons of sewage a day. However, town officials have said Hampstead will soon need to treat about 125,000 gallons more each day to meet the demands of future development.

Expanding the 30-year-old plant, south of town near the Robert's Field subdivision, might not be an option because of a dispute over Piney Run, a stream that runs from Hampstead into Baltimore County. A federal lawsuit filed by Baltimore County residents alleging that discharge is harming the stream remains on appeal.

As the legal battle proceeds, the county is studying the possibility of acquiring the wastewater treatment plant at the former Black & Decker site south of town. However, the owner has expressed no interest in selling the facility.

Rather than buying the Black & Decker facility, the county might consider reserving capacity at the plant, said Steve Horn, the county planning director.

Horn also updated the commissioners yesterday on plans to improve Route 26 in Eldersburg. County planners and State Highway Administration officials are meeting this week with business leaders to discuss options to make the road safer and more attractive.

Proposed changes include additional traffic lanes, new service lanes and creation of a "boulevard district," which would set architectural guidelines for businesses requiring the use of certain street signs, facades and shrubs.

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