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U.S. Rep. Beverly B. Byron has promised to set up a meeting with state and federal transportation officials to determine the status of bypasses for Hampstead and Manchester.

"You've done a lot of your homework already," Byron told the Board of County Commissioners Thursday.

"All of it," Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said. "And we've done itseveral times."

Byron agreed that a Route 30 bypass around the two north Carroll towns should be a priority.

"The time has come with the growth to really get on a higher priority list for the state," she said.

"We're hoping you can help us do that," Gouge said.

Bypass plans have been in the works for years, but state officials repeatedly have told the county no money is available, said Edmund R. Cueman, county planning department director.

The projects have been "somewhere near the bottom" of the priority list, he said.

The cost of the Hampstead bypass is estimated to be $24 million; the Manchester bypass doesn't have a price tag yet.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell suggested that instead of building two bypasses, I-795 could be extended through the county into Pennsylvania.

"You have become a visionary," Byron said, adding that an extension is a good idea.

Gouge said county officials have been told it would take 30 years to getsuch a project on the books and that no land for the road has been preserved.

The congresswoman said she would arrange a meeting with Carroll's delegation in Annapolis, Pennsylvania legislators and transportation officials and U.S. transportation officials to determine the status of the bypasses.

Byron's meeting with the commissioners and several of their staff members Thursday was an annual visit to discuss their concerns.

The commissioners also asked Byron for help extracting the Gillis Falls Reservoir project from the federal bureaucracy.

The proposed 430-acre reservoir -- planned for 20 years -- would provide water for South Carroll residents for about 50 years.

The county has purchased 98 percent of the land needed for the project, but is in a "quagmire" because of environmental regulations, Cueman said.

"Our people are going to suffer" because of the bureaucracy," Gouge said.

The county is planning to create wetlands at another site to replace those taken for the reservoir, she said.

Byronagreed the county needs to plan for future water needs and said she would contact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to find out which federal agency will be designated to oversee the project.

In another area, Robert A. "Max" Bair Jr., executive assistant to the commissioners, asked Byron if she could help reform the welfare system so that recipients do not earn more on public assistance than they would at a minimum-wage job.

The system "encourages people to be on welfare," he said.

Byron said she is concerned that people who havereceived public assistance and job retraining lose their child-care benefits once they find a job.

"It's a key problem we've got to look at," she said.

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