Engineers are designing a possible deceleration lane on Md. 97 among other plans as part of an effort to make it safer and easier to drive to the planned Charles Carroll Community Center.
Charles Carroll Elementary School closed at the end of the 2015-2016 school year and was later demolished, leaving the Silver Run community without a community focal point. The county plans to build a community center in its place.
The schematic design of the center is complete and is now in the design development phase, Bureau Chief of Building Construction Eric Burdine told the Carroll County Commissioners last week. Part of this process included site contractor KCI Technologies, Inc. submitting traffic data to the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) that showed the number of vehicles expected to enter and exit the center during peak hours, Burdine later said. After reviewing this information, SHA directed the county to install signs on either side of Md. 97 alerting drivers to the approaching community center and to provide concept designs of a deceleration lane, according to commissioners’ agenda documents.
Commissioners on Thursday voted 4-0 to pay $23,600 to KCI Technologies to design and provide an estimate of what it would cost to build a partial northbound deceleration lane. The design expense is already provided for within the overall project budget, Commissioners President Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, noted, but not the cost of building a deceleration lane. Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, was absent from the meeting.
“This is just for the evaluation of it,” Director of the Department of Public Works Jeff Castonguay said. The lane could cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The county has budgeted approximately $3 million to build the community center, according to Burdine.
The Md. 97 project would entail adding a partial northbound lane by widening the road, allowing a vehicle to slow down to turn into the community center without disrupting the flow of traffic, Burdine said Monday.
SHA determined a deceleration lane is not needed for southbound traffic, as most visitors are expected to travel northbound to reach the center, according to KCI’s traffic data, Burdine said.
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Engineers must provide two concept plans to SHA — one with the deceleration lane starting 350 feet south of the entrance and another starting about 200 feet south. The latter would cut the county “a little bit of a break,” Burdine said Thursday, as the lane would begin after an existing overhead utility pole, which would need to be relocated if the highway administration selects the 350-foot plan.
The highway administration will decide which plan it wants the county to implement after it examines both options, Burdine said. He does not anticipate SHA requiring any more turn lanes at this point.
In addition to the deceleration lane, “warning signs” and “supplemental plaques” will be installed on the north and southbound sides of Md. 97 alerting drivers of the upcoming entrance to the community center. These will be an added cost to the project budget, Burdine said. He could not assign a price tag to the signs and plaques as of Thursday, but KCI will provide an estimate in the future.
Parks department revives courts
The Recreation and Parks Department is also contributing to the future community center. Director Jeff Degitz likened his department’s work to a “face lift” of the recreation facilities. The department is resurfacing the tennis courts and basketball court, replaced the back stops on the two baseball diamonds, and installed a new outfield fence on one of the baseball fields, Degitz said Monday, and there’s more work to be done.
Degitz is excited to see the project chugging along, as locals have “really missed” the recreational opportunities the school once provided.
“It really was a focal point for recreation in the community,” Degitz said. “I think the community is really going to be pleased in the end.”
While walls have yet to be raised for the community center, locals may get to see a site design sketch in the next two to three months at a planning commission meeting, according to Burdine.