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County Executive Kevin Kamenetz presented a list of transportation needs to the state Department of Transportation last week as part of the Consolidated Transportation Program but two local officials said no Towson projects were included in the request. Now, County Council David Marks and state Sen. Jim Brochin want to leverage the situation by writing a letter to the transportation department to get what they say are long overdue improvements to county-maintained roads such as Bosley Avenue, seen here, and Stevenson Lane.
County Executive Kevin Kamenetz presented a list of transportation needs to the state Department of Transportation last week as part of the Consolidated Transportation Program but two local officials said no Towson projects were included in the request. Now, County Council David Marks and state Sen. Jim Brochin want to leverage the situation by writing a letter to the transportation department to get what they say are long overdue improvements to county-maintained roads such as Bosley Avenue, seen here, and Stevenson Lane. (Dan Rodricks/Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz presented a list of transportation priorities last week to a Maryland Department of Transportation official asking for investment in mass commuter transit alternatives, bridge maintenance and other improvements to state roads which impact the county as part of the state's six-year transportation plan.

Towson was omitted from that list, and that hasn't gone unnoticed by two Towson politicians, who are now trying to leverage the situation to get what they say are overdue needed improvements to the county-maintained roads of Bosley Avenue and Stevenson Lane.

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"We were alarmed that the needs of Greater Towson were virtually unmentioned in [Kamenetz's] presentation," County Councilman David Marks and state Sen. Jim Brochin said in a joint letter addressed to transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, dated Oct. 24. "The Kamenetz administration has aggressively pushed for development in Downtown Towson."

Marks hopes that his letter will convince the state to pressure the county to expedite its plan to resurface Bosley Avenue and Stevenson Lane, which he called "rotting roads." Portions of Bosley Avenue are riddled with pot holes and Marks said the resurfacing of that road has been continuously delayed.

In their letter to the Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, Marks and Brochin ask that the administration of Gov. Larry Hogan make it a condition that the county immediately resurface Bosley Avenue and Stevenson Lane before the state considers supporting Kamenetz's transportation priorities list.

"We have been promised over and over that both these corridors would be resurfaced during this construction season. Now, we're almost at Thanksgiving and nothing has happened," Marks said.

Marks, who was chief of staff at the transportation department under fellow Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich Jr. from 2003 to 2007, said there is often negotiation between the state and county over transportation funding. The goal of his letter is to ask the state to "gently persuade" Kamenetz to fix the county roads during those negotiations.

County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said Oct. 27 that Bosley Avenue is scheduled to be resurfaced, although she could give no firm date as to when that would occur.

Kamenetz presented the list to Rahn on Oct. 20 while Rahn was visiting the county as part of the transportation department's annual Consolidated Transportation Program tour, naming projects he hopes the state will prioritize to support the local economy and relieve traffic congestion.

The Consolidated Transportation Program is a six-year budget for state transportation projects, planning what roads and transportation-related projects will be funded. Every year, Rahn and other transportation officials tour 23 counties and Baltimore City to speak with local officials about the program, and to get input on what should be included.

Kamenetz's list of priorities for Rahn included projects in Catonsville, Essex, Overlea, White Marsh, Middle River, Sparrows Point and Owings Mills.

Marks said the county executive lacks a transportation vision for downtown Towson.

Aside from the resurfacing, Marks would like to see improvements to some intersections and a circulator bus for the Towson core.

Marks said the intersections of York Road and Burke Avenue; York Road and Bosley Avenue; and Loch Raven and Joppa Road are congested and in need of work to relieve traffic.

In the past Marks has proposed a circulator bus for Towson, similar to Baltimore City's Charm City Circulator, which as currently proposed would run a "T" shaped route through Towson. Kamenetz has expressed skepticism about the need for the proposed free bus in Towson.

Brochin said he would like to see a bi-partisan, comprehensive study of how redevelopment in downtown Towson will impact traffic in the area.

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"When you're on York [Road] and Burke [Avenue] it takes you 10 or 15 minutes to hit the circle and it's a half-mile away," Brochin said. "I can't even imagine what that area is going to look like when or if they finish Towson Row."

Towson Row, now under construction in a square block in the core of Towson, will bring 200,000 square-feet of office space, 300 apartments, a hotel and 100,000 square-feet of restaurant and retail space, including a Whole Foods and a garage with 1,500 parking spaces.

Such a study should have been completed before developments like Towson Row were approved, Brochin said.

"I can tell you that people go out of their way to avoid this area now," Brochin said. "My fear is it's going to get worse."

Items included on Kamenetz's list focus on "big picture items that promote economic development and alleviate traffic congestion in a way that supports our major employers," Kobler said.

One request is for a "long-planned" interchange on Interstate 795 at Dolfield Boulevard in Owings Mills, which officials say will alleviate traffic congestion associated with the Metro Center and Foundry Row. The improvement would benefit major nearby employers such as CareFirst and T. Rowe Price by alleviating congestion, officials said.

In Towson, the county recently completed the first phase of a $2.3 million road-widening project at the intersection of Towsontown Boulevard and Osler Drive, which supports major employers Towson University, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Sheppard Pratt Health System and University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, Kobler said.

The county provided 75 percent of the funding for that project, while the four institutions shared in the rest of the cost.

Regarding Marks' push for improvements to several intersections, the county's Department of Public Works reviews intersections regularly and takes measures to promote traffic calming, Kobler said.

The Consolidated Transportation Program tour will end Nov. 15. After that, the department prepares its final budget, which is presented to the Maryland General Assembly in January.

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