Street plan riles area

Residents angered by project to extend Boxwood Drive

Concerned about traffic

Panel of officials from town, county to hold hearing tonight

February 19, 2002|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

Hampstead residents will have a second opportunity tonight to register their distress over a planned extension of Boxwood Drive that many say would turn the residential street into a high-speed throughway.

As part of a general public hearing on Hampstead's reworked comprehensive plan, residents will plead their case to a panel of county and town officials.

The Boxwood extension, an approved and funded project, hadn't caused many ripples in Hampstead before a Town Council meeting Feb. 12, when about 30 residents showed up with stories of how their children would be in danger traversing the extended road. Most said they hadn't heard about the extension until seeing the proposed comprehensive plan, a blueprint for Hampstead land use that is updated periodically.

Under the plan, the town eventually would extend the road in two directions, connecting it to Lower Beckleysville Road on the north side and to Trenton Mill Road on the south. Only the 300-foot extension to Lower Beckleysville has been approved and funded, and council members seemed skeptical that the connection to Trenton Mill will be built in the near future.

Though county funding for the extension is in place, the project probably won't begin until next year, said Doug Myers, Carroll director of public works.

The council approved the extension hoping that Boxwood would become an easy way for residents of the Robert's Field development to reach a planned post office on Lower Beckleysville. But with construction of the post office on hold, the extension would do little more than create an attractive bypass for commuters wanting to skirt crowded Route 30, residents said.

"I think it's a noble endeavor to try and get traffic off of Route 30, but we should do that through a bypass," said Pete Farley, who lives on Boxwood. "We've all already had some near misses trying to leave our driveways."

The state plans to build a Route 30 bypass around Hampstead, but town residents have learned to be wary of claims that bypass construction is imminent because the project has been on the books since the 1960s. Until the bypass is built, commuters from Manchester and Pennsylvania will continue seeking potential shortcuts around congested Route 30, residents say, and the town would help them by extending Boxwood.

Curt Snyder, a Baltimore police officer who lives on Boxwood, said he has used his radar gun to chart speeds on the road and found that drivers often go twice the posted limit of 25 mph.

Responding to complaints that the council is creating a dangerous road, Mayor Christopher Nevin said, "No racetrack has been created in this town since this administration has been in place."

Council members said they would have town police assemble more data on the road and consider adding stop signs to reduce speeds. But they defended the benefits of the extension and questioned the potential harm of 300 extra feet of road.

They encouraged complainants to speak at the public hearing, scheduled for 7 p.m. today at Hampstead Fire Hall.

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