Does Westminster need a bypass?

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Thoughts on issues relating to Carroll County

July 10, 2005

THE ISSUE: Noting an expected surge in traffic in coming years, a panel has recommended the revival of a proposed bypass around Westminster, a $500 million project scrapped seven years ago by Gov. Parris N. Glendening as contrary to his Smart Growth anti-sprawl campaign.

The panel, appointed by the Carroll County commissioners, unveiled the plan for an eight-mile road north of Route 140 in a report that includes details of a four-lane divided highway that would run from Leidy Road to Hughes Shop Road in the county seat.

Do you think that nearly $500 million should be spent to build a bypass? Is there an alternative plan for controlling traffic through Westminster?

Bypass wouldn't halt underlying problem

Building a $500 million bypass around Westminster is a waste of taxpayer funds. It doesn't address the cause of traffic congestion - out-of-control growth and development.

The problem with another bypass is that by the time it's completed, it will be obsolete, if growth and development in the county are not controlled. A third bypass costing a billion dollars will be needed next.

The answer - don't allow additional development beyond what the county can handle in terms of infrastructure and resources. The costs associated with additional roads and bypasses should be borne by the private developers, not the taxpayer. Another option is better public transportation to the Baltimore and Washington areas.

David J. Iacono Westminster

Bypass' costs just aren't worth it

For Westminster residents, the bypass talk is "deja vu all over again." The Westminster Bypass was officially taken off the state books in 1999 for good reason. The lessons of urban growth are very clear: If you build a road, people will come.

Nowhere in the state of Maryland has a bypass eased congestion. One only has to drive on Reisterstown Road or Rockville Pike to see how a bypass increases congestion.

The Blue Ribbon Panel noted that 70 percent of the traffic on Route 140 is local. A bypass will not ease that situation.

Furthermore, the so-called "Northern Alignment" would displace 28 homes, cutting through communities and neighborhoods. Who would benefit from the half-billion-dollar price tag? Certainly not the 28 families who would be forced to relocate. Certainly not the countless residents who would be adversely affected by having a highway in their back yard.

The bottom line? A relatively small number of commuters would be able to get to work a little quicker while the rest of us pay the price for "progress."

Tom and Dorothy Scanlan Westminster

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