Aiming to map a road plan

Md. transportation officials meet with county leaders

November 12, 2006|By Laura McCandlish | Laura McCandlish,Sun reporter

Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley could redirect state funding priorities away from roads and toward public transportation - which could disrupt some desired projects in Carroll County, said South Carroll Del. Susan W. Krebs.

O'Malley, who questioned highway projects similar to the Hampstead Bypass, favors growth plans that overlook the need for new highways to manage increased traffic, she said.

O'Malley, a Democrat, will succeed Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in January.

"Ehrlich got roads back on the map," said Krebs, a Republican. "There needs to be a balance, but for so long they were totally neglected. They figured if roads got clogged up enough people would stop moving out here. That's just not practical."

County leaders and members of the county's delegation gathered with state Department of Transportation officials last week to discuss how the state will spend $175 million in transportation dollars in Carroll County over the next six years.

The county commissioners and delegation unanimously signed off on the county's list of priorities for the state, including the reconstruction of Route 26 from its intersection with Route 32 to the Baltimore County line.

Other key projects include a multilane reconstruction of Route 32, from the Howard County line to Route 26, and continuing the Hampstead Bypass of Route 30 to include Manchester.

The $83.4 million Hampstead Bypass is under way, about 15 percent complete, and should open to traffic at the end of 2008, Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said at the meeting.

"I know it would have never come to fruition without the Ehrlich administration," Republican Sen. Larry E. Haines said of the bypass, which had been in the works for decades.

But extending the relocated Route 30 to bypass Manchester was notably absent from discussion.

"I think that will definitely be threatened," Krebs said earlier.

Del. Donald B. Elliott, of New Windsor, also a Republican, said he was disturbed to learn that the state hasn't committed to funding a "streetscape" revitalization of Main and High Streets in his town.

Union Bridge completed a comparable $2.3 million project in 2004 to beautify Main Street there. New Windsor badly needs new sidewalks, piping and pedestrian crossings, Elliott said.

"It's not funded now," Elliott said of his town's desired project. "New Windsor just hired a new town manager. Maybe I thought wrong, but I had anticipated him working on the streetscape plans."

The first third of the engineering for the $45 million Route 26 (Liberty Road) corridor improvement project will be completed this spring, transportation officials said. The county has contributed $1 million toward the additional $3.1 million now required for engineering costs.

The state also started soliciting bids Tuesday for the $5 million reconstruction of Route 32 between Route 26 and Macbeth Way in South Carroll. The county is contributing $2.5 million, half the cost of the project.

County officials and delegation leaders seemed pleased with the meeting, given difficulties involved in securing transportation money.

"It's a very complicated process," county planning director Steven C. Horn said. "There are limited state resources."

Haines questioned why the reconstruction of a 2.5-mile stretch of Route 140, from Sullivan Road to Market Street, is expected to cost $200 million.

Transportation officials said that includes $30 million for land acquisition to widen the road, where a "continuous-flow intersection" that involves building an extra lane for left-turning motorists is planned.

A veteran legislator who has served under past Democratic governors, Haines said he is optimistic that Carroll's transportation priorities will continue to receive funding.

"We still built roads during the Glendening and Schaefer administrations," Haines said. "I guess we will with O'Malley, too."

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