State collects traffic data on Route 140

Information will help draft proposals to ease congestion

Bypass still not an option

City, county part of effort to deal with 55,000 vehicles a day


October 01, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The State Highway Administration is examining Route 140 where the highway passes through Westminster to find ways to relieve congestion and improve safety on the city's main artery.

The study involves about a two-mile segment from Sullivan Road to Leidy Road. Residents along the stretch might notice administration personnel in the neighborhoods in the next few weeks.

Highway inspectors will be checking the "location of community facilities, historic structures and archaeological sites, as well as natural environmental features, including wetlands, streams and wildlife habitat," according to a letter the administration mailed to many residents last month. The inspections began Sept. 20 and could continue for several months.

Marion Fourhman received two letters, one for her residence of 46 years and one for an adjoining property she owns. "They have been talking about doing something about the highway for years," Fourhman said.

The state is working with Carroll County and Westminster on alternatives to a bypass around the city, a project Gov. Parris N. Glendening scrapped nearly three years ago because, he said, it would promote sprawl.

"With the bypass no longer under consideration, we are basically looking at what can be done on Route 140," said Jane Wagner, an administration project planner.

The state will rely on the data it gathers in the next few months to draft improvement proposals for that section of the highway, which is used by 55,000 motorists daily.

"We will be taking a physical look around, particularly for pipes, utilities and wetlands," Wagner said. The agency also will draw maps, count traffic and develop traffic projections for the next 20 years, she said.

Thomas Beyard, Westminster director of planning, said the study is the preliminary phase of a lengthy undertaking that will involve businesses and homeowners groups.

"Whatever we do will have a significant impact on businesses along the highway," Beyard said. "We need to take our time with this. The city, county and state are all interrelated in this."

Nearly all the state's major improvements to Route 140 are complete. Beyard said he would like to see additional work at three key intersections: Malcolm Drive, Center Street and Englar Road.

Westminster is spending $166,000 on a study of several shopping centers and housing developments that will open in the next few months and cause further traffic congestion.

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