State agencies agree to study transportation issues on I-95

March 24, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

Two state transportation agencies have agreed to study traffic issues along Interstate 95 between Harford and Cecil counties, which leaders hope is the first step toward eliminating a $5 toll that some say hinders economic development.

Officials from the Maryland Transportation Authority and the State Highway Administration will join a task force made up of politicians, state officials and business leaders that will "take a fresh look at ways to break down the barriers between the two counties caused by tolls on the Hatem and Tydings" bridges, according to a news release.

Cecil is expected to help accommodate the thousands of jobs - and maybe dozens of companies - projected to come to the area as a result of the base realignment and closure plan that will transfer some operations to Aberdeen Proving Ground.

But Cecil officials say the Perryville toll plaza - on I-95 just past the Tydings Bridge over the Susquehanna River - serves as a financial and psychological barrier between the county and the rest of Maryland. The nearby Hatem Bridge on U.S. 40 is scheduled for repair next year.

"We're delighted that the transportation authority recognizes changes in the toll road are imperative to the growth of the Cecil County economy," said Vernon Thompson, economic development director for Cecil County.

Democratic Dels. Mary-Dulany James and David D. Rudolph and Republican Del. Sheryl L. Davis-Kohl, who helped negotiate the study, were lead sponsors of a bill this year to extend use of the discounted Hatem Bridge decals to the Tydings Bridge.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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