Elkridge residents worried about the effects on traffic posed LTC by burgeoning development were relieved to learn last night that plans to widen Montgomery Road have been eliminated from the county's proposed 1994 capital budget.
But even if Montgomery Road remains a two-lane thoroughfare, the people still face the threat of increased traffic because of a proposed connection to a four-lane loop road that would run through a planned 352-acre residential, commercial and golfing community in the area.
About 250 people attended a two-hour meeting of the Elkridge Community Association to hear about plans for Montgomery Road and the continuing construction of the Route 100 extension in Howard County -- a highway they saw as an alternative to routing traffic to Montgomery Road.
Speakers at the session included Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker, Public Works Director James Irvin, Bureau Chief of Engineering William E. Riley, and Clyde Graham, a representative from the Planning and Zoning Department.
The crowd applauded the news that a $7.4 million project to reconstruct and widen 1.67 miles of Montgomery Road from Washington Boulevard to the proposed Marshalee Road loop would be eliminated from Mr. Ecker's proposed 1994 capital budget.
"You all done changed your mind?" asked Montgomery Road resident Laura Simms, 81, as if to verify what she had heard. "You all had me worried."
The Department of Public Works had asked for $635,000 in the coming fiscal year for plans, engineering and administration for the Montgomery Road project. Construction would have begun in 1996. Now the project will placed in the Comprehensive Transportation Plan -- a study of traffic patterns scheduled for completion in 18 months.
The department also wanted $500,000 to improve 1,000 feet of Montgomery Road by removing a hill west of Landing Road. That project, too, will be included in the traffic study. The fiscal 1994 request was for $197,000 for land acquisition, preliminary plans and engineering. Construction would have begun in 1995.
The project that residents are most worried about now is a $4.2 million, two-phase plan to construct a portion of Marshalee Road through the planned Centre 9500 development. The fiscal 1994 request is for $42,000 to pay for plans and engineering. Construction would begin in 1995.
Neighbors are concerned that traffic from the four-lane Marshalee Road will eventually force the county to widen the eastern end of Montgomery Road. Some residents want Marshalee to be connected to Route 100 instead.
"The answer is to connect the loop road to Route 100," said Barbara Wachs, a former executive board member of the Elkridge Community Association.
But Mr. Irvin argued that technical and safety issues with weaving and merging prevented linking the loop road to Route 100. He also said the State Highway Administration refused to authorize the connection.
"They have the ultimate yes or no authority," Mr. Irvin said. "But we're trying to get them to change their minds."
Other residents suggested building only two lanes of Marshalee for the development until Route 100 and various traffic studies are completed.
But Mr. Irvin said building all four lanes now is a cheaper solution.
Mr. Ecker is expected to announce his recommendations at a press conference today. He will formally submit his proposed capital budget to the County Council for review and approval Thursday, April 1.