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Harford County Council, residents oppose relocation of Route 152 park-and-ride

The Maryland Department of Transportation is proposing relocating the park-and-ride at I-95 and Route 152 near Joppa, shown here Feb. 18, 2020, to the area of 152 and Franklinville Road.
The Maryland Department of Transportation is proposing relocating the park-and-ride at I-95 and Route 152 near Joppa, shown here Feb. 18, 2020, to the area of 152 and Franklinville Road. (Matt Button)

The Harford County Council is opposing the proposed relocation of a park-and-ride from the intersection I-95 and Mountain Road to where Route 152 crosses Franklinville Road.

Introduced by Councilman Joseph M. Woods — who represents Abingdon, Joppa, Fallston and a sliver of Bel Air — the resolution exhorts the Maryland Transportation Authority to reconsider the lot’s placement, which could congest the roads and impact the area’s residents. The resolution was unanimously approved by the seven-member county council last week.

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Residents took issue with the park-and-ride, according to the resolution, because it would increase traffic on Franklinville and Old Joppa roads beyond their capacities. Those areas are already congested, the document states, but adding the parking lot would make it worse.

“The state really needs to take another approach on this,” Woods said at the meeting. “It would push a lot of traffic to the backroads.”

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On top of that, the proposed location does not have a traffic light, nor is one planned for installation. Residents of the area contend that could make for a dangerous traffic pattern. The resolution also notes environmental effects that the construction would have on the area.

“The proposed new location for the [park-and-ride] lot will result in negative environmental impacts caused by the clear cutting of an undeveloped wooded area and paving thereof, thereby resulting in increased environmental degradation,” it states.

There are around 15 to 20 homes in the area, Woods said.

The goal, Woods said at the meeting, is to keep the park-and-ride within striking distance of I-95.

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The current park-and-ride, located at the interchange between I-95 and Route 152 (Mountain Road) is convenient and well-used, Woods said. Moving it to a more out-of-the-way location a mile away does not make sense.

“Why are they moving something on 95 … and now it is not accessible from 95,” Woods said.

The MTA commissioned a study of the 16-mile stretch of 95 where the park-and-ride sits and determined that it had to be moved

Relocating the park-and-ride is part of a $1.1 billion multi-year project to extend Express Toll Lanes on I-95 north into Harford County. Construction is scheduled to last through 2026, with the first section ending at Route 152 opening in 2023 and the final section past Route 24 opening in late 2026.

“Improvements to I-95 would impact the existing MD 152 Park & Ride facility and require removal of Old Mountain Road Bridge,” the agency’s website states. “Therefore, the Maryland Transportation Authority needed to look for a new location that would accommodate existing users and add transit accessibility for MTA buses.”

Another study measuring where park-and-ride users came from and where they went was influenced the MTA’s decision. The park-and-ride primarily services Harford and Baltimore counties. That study narrowed the choices down to seven plots. The organization also consulted with the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company before announcing the relocation to ensure first responders would have safe access to Route 152 and Route 7, according to the web page.

MTA officials could not be reached for comment on the park-and-ride relocation project Tuesday.

The county council’s resolution will be sent to the Maryland Transit Authority and Maryland Sen. J. B. Jennings. The resolution does not have any power, but it conveys the citizens and council’s opinions on the project, which could be considered before the decision is made.

“It is our only tool of, as a group, saying ‘hey we would prefer you to [reconsider],’” Woods said. “At least we as the council expressed our opinion.”

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