Incinerator access on hold

April 06, 2009|By Jonathan Pitts | Jonathan Pitts,jonathan.pitts@baltsun.com

Neighbors who fear that a plan to expand an energy-producing incinerator in Harford County will cause them traffic headaches won't know until later this year if their concerns will be addressed.

The Harford County Council recently chose not to consider a proposal that would have required the Army, Baltimore County and the state to build a new access road from Route 24 to the Harford Waste-to-Energy Facility next to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Joppa as part of a proposed $400 million expansion project.

Instead, the council voted for an amendment offered by Council President Billy Boniface requiring the Army, Baltimore County and the state to study other options for addressing the traffic problem. The council said it will review the results of the study in late November.

Although Boniface conceded that the problem was significant, he said the access road proposal by Councilman Dion F. Guthrie was too restrictive.

"It only allowed for one option - the road in from [Route] 24," Boniface said, noting that the plan would have prohibited delivery trucks on Magnolia Road (Route 152) near the plant.

The Magnolia Road facility, on 13 acres adjacent to Aberdeen Proving Ground, burns 360 tons of solid waste a day, converting it to steam, which is used to create electricity on the Army base.

The proposed expansion would take more than five years to complete and would nearly quadruple the plant's capacity. It would also include waste from Baltimore County for the first time.

The Harford and Baltimore county councils are expected to vote on the expansion in the next few months.

Guthrie said a new access road was necessary because Magnolia Road, the only route to the site, is a residential street unsuited to heavy commercial traffic.

More than 60 delivery trucks go in and out of the facility every day. Officials say the proposed expansion would mean an additional 68 to 80 trucks a day, most of which would arrive between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.

"That's noisy, it's dangerous, and it's unfair to the neighbors," said Guthrie, whose district includes the incinerator site and the surrounding area.

Residents agree. Bill Hollandsworth, who has lived in the neighborhood on Magnolia Road for more than 30 years, said the congestion is already so great that it can take him 20 minutes to get out of his own driveway.

"They seem to want to make our neighborhood their junkyard," said Hollandsworth, 73, who, along with dozens of other residents, attended the meeting at which Guthrie pitched his measure.

"Why don't they just cut the road in from Route 24? Nobody lives there."

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