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Carroll eyes highway widening in future transportation plan

Improvements along several major roadways in Carroll County and the construction of a transit hub in Westminster to improve county transportation services are among the projects Carroll could include in a long-range transportation plan for the Baltimore region.

The plan, being developed by the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board, is called Maximize2040 and will contain a list of major transportation projects the regional board expects to implement between 2020 and 2040. The board consists of representatives from Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll Harford and Howard counties; Baltimore City; and several state agencies. It is federally mandated to develop a new long-range transportation plan every four years.

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Lynda Eisenberg, chief of the county's Bureau of Comprehensive Planning and Carroll's representative on the transportation board, briefed the Carroll County Board of Commissioners Thursday on each of the 11 projects county staff would like included in the plan.

Eisenberg said the county's five high priority projects are the widening of Md. 26 from where it intersects Md. 32 to the Liberty Reservoir; widening Md. 32 where it meets with Md. 26 to the Howard County line; widening Md. 97 north from Md. 140 to Bachmans Valley Road; widening Md. 140 from Market Street to Sullivan Road; and intersection and interchange improvements along Md. 140 from the Baltimore County line to Kays Mill Road. All of these sections would also have bicycle/pedestrian lanes added to them.

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These five projects are the same ones the county asked to be included in the previous long-range transportation plan, known as Plan It 2035. In that plan, the projects had been allocated $770 million of the $6.7 billion that had been set aside for highway projects.

These long-range transportation plans are federally funded and the amount of funding is formula driven, Eisenberg said. Federal funding for Plan It 2035 totaled $44.9 billion, with roughly $11.5 billion allocated for system expansion, including highway and transit projects.

The transportation board is requesting an increase in system expansion funding for Maximize2040, from $11.5 billion to $15.8 billion, Eisenberg said.

County staff has also designated four projects as medium priority projects. These include widening Md. 26 from its intersection with Md. 32 to Md. 97; infrastructure improvements and pavement rehabilitation along Md. 31 in New Windsor from Church Street to Coe Drive; similar improvements along Md. 851 in Sykesville from the Howard County line to Cooper Drive; and relocating Md. 30 from Brodbeck Road to Md. 86 to bypass Manchester.

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A transit hub in Westminster to enable passenger transfers for Butler transportation services and relocating Md. 140 to bypass Taneytown beginning at Trevanion Road are the county's two low priorities for the long-range transportation plan.

Jodi Glock, transportation grants coordinator for the county's Department of Citizen Services, said though they have rated the transit hub as a low priority for the long-range transportation plan, it would significantly improve the quality of mass transit services in the county. It would act as a connecting point for bus routes, a secure location for vehicle parking and include amenities such as restrooms and a vendor area.

Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, asked county staff if they used vehicle collision data, constituent feedback or traffic volume to determine project priority.

Eisenberg said they did not use these statistics when assigning priorities because the majority of these projects aren't in the planning process. Lang said the reason the transportation board requests jurisdictions prioritize their projects is because it affects the scoring system used to determine what is most important for all jurisdictions.

The transportation board will rank all projects submitted for inclusion based on project readiness, the board's goals and objectives, congestion management strategies, environmental conservation, and participation and cooperation among stakeholders.

The county has until April to submit a letter requesting projects be included in the long-range transportation plan, Eisenberg said. The plan is tentatively scheduled for adoption in November.

Reach staff writer Wiley Hayes at 410-857-3315 or wiley.hayes@carrollcountytimes.com.

Westminster transit hub: would act as a connecting point for bus routes, a secure location for vehicle parking and include amenities such as restrooms and a vendor area.

Carroll County's proposed projects for Maximize2040:

High-priority projects:

Md. 26: widening from four to six lanes from intersection with Md. 32 to Liberty Reservoir. Project includes adding bicycle and pedestrian lanes.

Md. 32: widening from two to four lanes from intersection with Md. 26 to the Howard County line. Project includes adding bicycle and pedestrian lanes.

Md. 97: widening from two to five lanes from Md. 140 overpass to Bachmans Valley Road. Project includes adding bicycle and pedestrian lanes.

Md. 140: widening from six to eight lanes from intersection at Market Street to Sullivan Road. Project includes adding bicycle and pedestrian lanes.

Md. 140: intersection and interchange improvements from Baltimore County Line to Kays Mill Road. Project includes adding bicycle and pedestrian lanes.

Medium-priority projects:

Md. 26: widening from two to four lanes from intersection with Md. 32 to Md. 97.

Md. 31: infrastructure improvements and pavement rehabilitation from intersection with Church Street to Coe Drive in New Windsor.

Md. 851: infrastructure improvements and pavement rehabilitation from Howard County line to Cooper Drive.

Md. 30: relocating highway from Brodbeck Road to Md. 86 to bypass Manchester, will be a new two-lane road.

Low-priority projects:

Md. 140: relocating highway from Trevanion Road to bypass Taneytown, will be a new two-lane road.

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