Hampstead bypass gets nod from state

construction to begin in fall of next year Building of 4 1/2 -mile road to begin in fall next year

May 26, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Construction of the $70 million Hampstead bypass, a 4 1/2 -mile-long road that has been nearly 40 years in the planning, will begin in the fall of next year, state transportation officials said yesterday.

"We are going to fund it," Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said to a round of applause and cheers in a meeting with the county delegation and town officials. "This is a great day for Hampstead. The bypass is on its way."

Traffic on Route 30, a state highway that becomes Main Street in Hampstead, made Flanagan a bit late for the meeting. Nearly 20,000 vehicles a day, many of them 18-wheelers or commuters from southern Pennsylvania, travel through the town on the highway.

Sen. Larry E. Haines, leader of Carroll's all-Republican legislative delegation, said the project has moved along at a snail's pace for 40 years. "This will be the first major road groundbreaking since [Gov. Theodore] McKeldin cut the ribbon for Route 140 on July 1, 1954," he said. "Funded - I haven't heard that word in a long time."

State, county and town officials have all agreed the bypass would relieve traffic in the northern Carroll County town. But funding did not become available until now.

"You all made a wonderful case for the need, and when I was driving here today, I remembered those reasons," Flanagan said. "There is nothing like sitting in congestion to sharpen the senses. That traffic is standard fare for the people of Hampstead."

Hampstead Mayor Haven Shoemaker said he was cautiously optimistic when the state scheduled yesterday's meeting and "ecstatic" when he heard Flanagan's announcement.

"This is one of the most significant days in the history of this town," Shoemaker said.

County Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge, whose political career began on the Hampstead council more than 25 years ago, called the announcement "absolutely unbelievable, but it's great."

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