Commissioners review proposals for side roads

Study suggests improving alternatives to Route 140

May 17, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

With the long-proposed Westminster bypass off the drawing board, transportation planners are recommending improvements to the side roads motorists use to circumvent traffic snarls along Route 140.

Among the recommendations presented to the county commissioners yesterday was one that would connect Routes 27 and 97 North to create a miniloop to divert traffic from a congested stretch of Route 140.

"Most of these back roads are getting congested. They were built so long ago," said Todd R. Lang, a planner with the engineering firm that drafted the proposed Westminster Transportation Study.

With no hope for a bypass, the commissioners shifted resources to address Westminster's traffic problems and hired the Baltimore firm Whitney, Bailey, Cox and Magnani LLC to develop the study. The study was conducted with a comprehensive plan for the city. Gov. Parris N. Glendening rejected the $200 million bypass three years ago because it didn't adhere to his Smart Growth initiative to curb sprawl.

Lang has spent more than a year on the project, most of it poring over traffic figures and pounding miles of city and county pavement.

He told the commissioners yesterday that plenty of traffic spills from Route 140 to side roads. According to the State Highway Administration, 39,350 vehicles traveled Route 140 through Westminster daily in 2000. Lang's boss, James W. Holls, estimated that number will grow by at least 63 percent by 2025.

"What we're doing now is to recognize the importance of those roadways," said Lang.

To quell residents' fears of highways running through their back yards, Lang reassured the commissioners with the boundaries of the proposal. No road will grow by more than two lanes, he said.

If the commissioners vote to include the recommendations in the county's comprehensive plan, hearings will be held for public comment before final action is taken.

The priority road projects include:

The Bennett Cerf Drive extension, which would provide a northern connection between Routes 27 and 97 North. It would begin at Bennett Cerf Drive at the Random House distribution center and head north to Sullivan Road, then veer northwest, intersecting with Meadow Branch Road.

The Malcolm Drive extension, which would begin at Malcolm Drive and Center Street, veer north across Gorsuch Road and curve to the northwest across Maryland Midland Railroad to Cranberry Road.

The Kate Wagner Road Extension, which would connect the street to Route 97 South.

The Arnold Road Safety Improvements and Extension, which would straighten what Lang called "very dangerous switchback curves" - sometimes more gravel and dirt than asphalt - between Hook Road and Old Westminster Pike. It also would connect Arnold Road with Route 140.

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