Carroll to sell land to state for roundabout

Circle to be at Routes 97, 850 near Eldersburg

September 15, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County commissioners voted yesterday to sell less than an acre of land to the State Highway Administration for a new roundabout to be built next year in South Carroll.

Two parcels totaling less than 0.4 of an acre will be sold to the state for $7,700 for the roundabout at Routes 97 and 850 -- the old Route 26 -- near Eldersburg, said Charles E. Ruppert, a county land acquisition specialist in the Department of Public Works. He said he learned of the plan last week, although safety in the area near the park-and-ride lot has long been a concern.

"It sounded like a good idea," Ruppert said. "They want to be done by the end of June, July next year. "

The commissioners agreed, but they were noncommittal about another proposal to deal with the traffic-clogged Freedom area that was floated by Planning Director Steven C. Horn.

It would have the county put up about $4 million in hopes of "getting some projects moving again in Freedom," he said.

County staff members met Aug. 11 with state highway representatives and plan another meeting Oct. 6 regarding the status of several projects in the area, he said. These include the Route 26 corridor improvement study, and improvements to intersections at Routes 32 and 26, and at Route 32 and MacBeth Way/ Piney Ridge Parkway.

Noting that the $25 million Route 26 project has been idle for more than two years, Horn suggested that the county use $3.5 million to pay for the next phase -- design and engineering. But he emphasized there is no commitment for any construction money from the state.

"The Route 26 corridor will benefit greatly from that project," he said. "The state is looking for long-term improvements, and we support that."

No costs are available for the Routes 26 and 32 intersection, Horn said. But at Route 32 and MacBeth Way, the state has said a signal is warranted but would not place one there because of other engineering concerns, including inadequate lane configuration and signal timing.

On these two projects, Horn suggested that the county commit about $500,000 for design and engineering to the state's 2006 fiscal year program to get them going.

"If we combine these two projects," he said, "one reason would be to interconnect the signals." The SHA is "reluctant to just put a signal there, because it may complicate matters even further."

The approximate $4 million could be freed by reallocating money from the county's current capital plans for Freedom-area local transportation improvements, Horn said.

Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Perry L. Jones Jr. were noncommittal, saying they wanted to await the return of Commissioner Dean L. Minnich, who is on vacation.

"This is a big idea," said Ted Zaleski, the county director of management and budget. "We opened the door a little bit when we shared" the cost of planning for the Route 26 corridor improvement.

"We're talking about opening that door a lot wider now. How far through that door do you want to go?" he said. "I'm not taking a position [but] you could put $4 million into this and there would be no guarantee of anything from the state."

Horn noted that the state secretary of transportation and staff members also plan a visit to Carroll in November, and said he would like to get the commissioners' thoughts on his idea.

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