Workshop to unveil plans to improve Liberty Road

County, SHA seek input of Eldersburg residents

May 31, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Eldersburg residents can get a look tonight at several proposals to improve Route 26, the congested main artery through South Carroll's business district.

The State Highway Administration plans a three-hour public workshop at Oklahoma Road Middle School, 6300 Oklahoma Road, to present concepts for the highway, also known as Liberty Road. Among the options on the agenda are intermittent medians, continuous right-turn lanes on both sides of the highway, pedestrian and bicycle crossings and landscaping.

A focus group of residents and state and county officials has met for nearly two years developing concepts for the corridor.

"We want the public's take [on] the proposed improvements," said Steven Horn, county director of planning, who served on the panel. "We are near completion and want to go over what happens at this public workshop."

The workshop will focus on several plans for a stretch of the highway that runs from Route 32 east to the Liberty Reservoir - "basically through Eldersburg," said David Buck, SHA spokesman.

"We want as much public input as possible," Buck said. "We want to find out what people want and we will leave the comments open for several weeks."

The focus group has reviewed three years of safety history on Liberty Road and found the accident rate somewhat lower than the statewide average for similar roads and traffic volumes.

Limiting access to the highway might decrease the number of accidents, Buck said. The 1-mile stretch has about 10 traffic signals and numerous access points.

"The most prevalent accidents are rear-end and side-angle, consistent with turning onto a road with a lot of access and signals," Buck said. "If we control accesses, possibly with service roads, we may cut down on those."

He also expects residents to express concerns for the intersection of Routes 26 and 32, one of the most dangerous in the county and rated near failure for the delays motorists encounter waiting through signal cycles.

During the workshop, the state will review plans for the Eldersburg Marketplace, a shopping center under construction less than a mile north of the intersection.

The state has required the developer to build several road improvements, including double left-turn lanes for traffic eastbound onto Route 26.

"That should help the intersection significantly," Buck said.

By late fall, SHA will schedule a public hearing on alternatives selected as a result of the workshop and a consensus of the focus group.

"We have to look at rights of way and costs," said Buck. "I hope we can select improvements by spring 2002."

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