County unveils $5 million plan to improve Harford roadways

Three projects are slated for Fallston, Bel Air areas

September 26, 2004|By Kevin T. McVey | Kevin T. McVey,SUN STAFF

State and local officials unveiled last week a nearly $5 million package of road programs aimed at alleviating congestion and safety concerns at three Harford County intersections.

The projects -- one at the intersection of Route 152, Carrs Mill and Old Fallston roads in Fallston, another along Main Street in Bel Air and a third along Emmorton Road south of Bel Air -- are part of the statewide transportation funding initiative proposed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. last year and approved by the General Assembly.

At an announcement at Fallston High School on Thursday, James F. Ports Jr., the state's assistant transportation secretary, thanked the county's Assembly delegation for its role in securing the transportation package.

"This has been a cooperative effort for everyone for all of these projects," Ports said.

Fallston improvements

Officials said the intersection of Route 152 and Carrs Mill and Old Fallston roads at Fallston High School handles 66 buses with nearly 2,900 students each day, along with tens of thousands of other vehicles.

To relieve congestion, the right-turn lane onto Carrs Mill Road will be extended by 400 feet, enabling traffic to flow more easily, said David J. Malkowski, an engineer for the State Highway Administration. Other work also is planned.

"We rate intersections on an `A' through `F' scale, with `A' being the best," Malkowski said. "Right now this intersection is rated a `D' in the morning, and we hope to improve it to a `B/C' intersection when construction is finished."

Construction on the Fallston High School intersection is slated to begin in the spring and be completed in 2007. It is expected to cost $800,000.

Del. Joanne S. Parrott, who has pushed for improvements at the intersection, was pleased that Harford County is getting the work done and that people will be able to travel more safely.

"I look forward to these changes that will improve the quality of life for those who drive through here every day and those who travel through Fallston," she said.

Main Street upgrades

The work along Main Street in Bel Air -- also known as Route 924 -- is aimed at helping traffic flow, improving the appearance of the area and complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Improvements include curb cutouts and new trees along the roadway.

Dennis L. German of the state's Highway Design Division said that problems along Main Street include crumbling crosswalks and sidewalks.

"One thing that is a big issue is that the sidewalks don't meet the ADA standards," he said.

Along with fixing the sidewalks at Main Street and U.S. 1, work will include installation of a median between Courtland and Office streets to slow traffic.

The Main Street project will begin in 2006 and end in 2008.

Some business owners in Bel Air, such as Ruth Foard, owner of Charles L. Lutz appliances, which has been in the Lutz building since 1947, say the improvements are needed but want the work done as soon as possible.

"I've been through construction here when the roads turned into mud and there were just a few planks to walk on," Foard said. "Harford County's been good to us, but if they're going to do something, it has to be done now."

Others, such as Dave Coen, owner of Hirsch's Men's Store, which has been at its Main Street location since 1937, does not see the work as a problem.

"We managed to stay right here 20 years ago when there was construction done, when 90 percent of the businesses left and new ones came in, so I don't see it being a problem for us," he said.

Emmorton Road work

The third project outlined last week involves Emmorton Road (Route 924) between MacPhail and Ring Factory roads, which will be worked on from the spring until 2007.

The plan is to reconstruct the existing two-lane highway into two through lanes and a new center turn lane. Other improvements include a bicycle lane, a sidewalk and new drains. The work is being done to improve the safety of the road, which has a crash rate higher than that of similar roads around the state.

Last week's announcement represents the second time in two months that the state has outlined planned improvements along Harford County roadways. Another project, announced over the summer, involves $9 million for safety and other improvements along U.S. 40 in Edgewood.

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