Harford Seeks Money For Roads Near Base

November 05, 2009|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

At their annual meeting Thursday with the Maryland Department of Transportation, Harford County officials will repeat their request for improvements to intersections near Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The post is expected to gain about 10,000 civilian jobs in the next few years under the base realignment and closing process known as BRAC. About 1,300 positions will be added by the end of this year, with another 2,500 by next summer. The base is working to fully implement the BRAC changes by September 2011.

"Every one of those jobs is a civilian who lives off the post," said James Richardson, Harford's economic development director. "We are so well positioned to capture these jobs, but our road system is critical to keeping traffic flowing."

While Harford officials welcome the influx of jobs and economic development, they have expressed concern about traffic congestion in the U.S. 40 corridor.

"We are pushing for money for intersection work on Route 40 in Aberdeen and Havre de Grace," said Robert Cooper, Harford's director of public works. "These are the same projects we have asked to be funded in the past."

Although the county has identified 22 intersections near the post that need upgrades to handle increased traffic, officials are limiting their requests to two main priorities on U.S. 40 near Aberdeen because of the slow economy. Improvements to the U.S. 40 intersections with Route 715, the main access to the post, and with Routes 7 and 159, which handles heavy tractor-trailer truck volume from area businesses are critical to traffic flow, officials said.

The state has about $45 million available - $15 million from federal sources - for BRAC-related road improvements at Aberdeen.

"While SHA continues to work with Harford County on the best way to apply these funds, clearly there is a focus on the Routes 40 and 715 intersection," said Jack Cahalan, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Transportation. "As the state's evaluation process continues, we will determine the best way to maximize the available funds."

Harford also is to receive $10 million in federal stimulus funding to improve state roads and bridges, he said.

The Route 715 entrance upgrades, estimated to cost about $32 million, have received about $10 million in federal and state funds for design and engineering.

"We really need construction funding, because BRAC is already happening," Cooper said.

The county also will push for construction money for the Route 7 intersection, which has received only limited funding and is expected to cost $20 million.

Harford also is considering an expansion of rapid transit. In addition to upgrades to its internal transit system, the county wants to provide more bus service to adjoining areas. Officials are asking for 16 new buses and improvements to bus depots.

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