Commissioners want more Rt. 140 options

Planning panel is asked to restore 2 intersections

February 12, 2003|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

The Carroll commissioners sent a proposed plan for road systems in and around Westminster back to the county's planning commission yesterday, suggesting that it restore two roads that had been eliminated from the blueprint and add a parallel road to a major highway.

While agreeing to most of what was proposed in the master plan for Westminster-area roadways, county officials said the elimination of a proposed Westminster bypass means that more has to be done to ease traffic on Route 140.

"These local roads are not going to replace the kind of capacity we anticipate would be provided by a state bypass," said Steven C. Horn, county planning director. "[The state's] decision not to fund a bypass forces us to consider local options that will at least assist in the distribution of traffic on the network."

The commissioners said county planners should ask the planning commission to reconsider its previous decision to eliminate the extension of Arnold and Bollinger roads to Route 140, which was in the original plan.

The planning commission raised concerns about creating more access points to Route 140, while the commissioners see the additional intersections as a way to keep traffic flowing in and out of Westminster.

The Transportation Element of the Westminster Community Comprehensive Plan, as the proposal is known, is designed to find ways to help ease traffic on the Westminster area's clogged state highways, Routes 140, 97 and 27.

When the state cut the Westminster bypass from its highway projects in January 1999, county planners had to come up with road realignments and extensions that would give area residents more options for local travel and for avoiding main thoroughfares like Route 140.

In November, the county Department of Planning met with the commissioners seeking approval for the transportation section of the Westminster plan, which was received from the planning commission after a series of public hearings and workshops.

Previous Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Robin Bartlett Frazier deferred making a decision on the plan.

Commissioners Dean L. Minnich and Perry L. Jones Jr., who took office in December, received their first look at the plan last week. The third commissioner, Julia Walsh Gouge, is serving her fourth term.

Yesterday, Minnich came up with a completely new idea to create a parallel road east of Route 97 north of Westminster. County planners said they'd study the idea.

Minnich also said that action should be taken to remove restrictions on properties in the path of the now-defunct Westminster bypass.

Commissioners want to approve portions of the plan before it goes back to the planning panel and give landowners the chance to develop their properties, which they haven't been able to do without final approval of the plan.

In 2001, the previous board of commissioners deleted the part of the bypass that stretched from Route 140 to Route 27, which released property owners from restrictions. The area between Route 27 and Sullivan Road is still considered part of the bypass.

All that would remain of the bypass would be the proposed extension of Bennett Cerf Drive, which would offer another way for motorists to get to Route 97.

The commissioners also suggested extending Kate Wagner Road east of Route 97 to connect with Route 140.

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