State Digest


April 15, 2006

Hunt Valley

Security device tested at station

Commuters arriving at the MARC train station in Hunt Valley yesterday found themselves trooping through a metal building that abruptly appeared on the station's parking lot overnight.

The building is a 20-foot-long mobile security station that is being tested by the federal Transportation Security Administration.

People walking through stop briefly at a screening device that shoots puffs of air to test for residue of explosives, while their bags are run through X-ray machines similar to those used in airport security.

"It's a prototype unit, the only one in the country," said James F. Ports, the state's deputy transportation secretary. "We're just happy to have it."

The mobile security station had been at the MARC rail station in Dorsey since April 4 but was taken apart and moved by flatbed trucks overnight to the Hunt Valley station to test how quickly it could be deployed to another location.

Amy Kudwa, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said "everything has gone swell" so far in testing the mobile security station.

The mobile station consists of two 8-foot by 20-foot metal boxes similar to shipping containers and is designed to be dismantled, moved and set up again quickly in response to security threats.



Route 100 ramp to shut for 3 months

A heavily used exit ramp from Route 100 to Ritchie Highway in Pasadena will be shut down starting Wednesday for a three-month construction project, according to State Highway Administration officials.

Spokeswoman Kellie Boulware said the ramp to be closed is the exit that eastbound traffic on Route 100 would ordinarily use to head north on the highway (Route 2.)

Instead, they will be rerouted past the closed ramp to Route 10 and the exit for Severna Park that intersects with Ritchie Highway, she said.

Boulware said vehicles had been striking the guard rail at a sharp curve in the existing exit ramp. She said that ramp will be replaced with a new one with a more gradual curve.

The $300,000 project is expected to take about three months to complete.



Battle looms over development plan

A battle is brewing over plans for a big-box retail store and up to 400 new homes on farmland near the Frederick County town of Thurmont.

Mayor Martin Burns says annexing the 180-acre site for the proposed development would benefit the town of 6,000. But some area residents say it's all wrong for a community that promotes itself as the gateway to the scenic Catoctin Mountains.

"Putting up a Wal-Mart isn't part of that," said Thomas Cromwell, one of about 40 residents who attended a meeting Wednesday on the issue. "Let the developer fit our vision."


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