Howard council delays vote on road closure

Officials consider making decision after traffic study

May 29, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

A decision on whether to permanently close Hanover Road, connecting Elkridge to Anne Arundel County across what Howard County officials deem a dangerous railroad crossing, was delayed yesterday after a Howard County Council discussion - but the road may be closed this fall as a test.

The issue has split the community, making what earlier seemed a consensus decision controversial.

The issue pits those worried about potential traffic from expanding Baltimore-Washington International Airport and an industrial park being built just east of the railroad tracks, against those who want the link kept intact. Opponents of the road closure led by resident Gail Sigel insist that closing the road will worsen traffic by forcing vehicles back through the community to U.S. 1.

The council decision will postpone the vote that was scheduled Monday on the issue, which is to be tabled.

"I support closure of Hanover Road," said area County Councilman Christopher J. Merdon, an Ellicott City Republican, but he said he wants more information and a clearer plan for how to handle resulting traffic.

James M. Irvin, the county public works director, said the road needs to be closed to keep cars from traversing railroad tracks where commuter trains travel. Anne Arundel planners do not object, as long as they are involved in creating alternative routes, said county spokeswoman Pam Jordan.

Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray, an east Columbia Democrat, agrees with Merdon's worries over what would happen to traffic in the community if Hanover Road is closed. Gray proposed doing a survey in the fall to get an accurate reading of traffic patterns.

Merdon said he wants a clear idea of how traffic will react, and a plan for how to manage it, before a final vote.

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