Lacking support in Towson, plan for transit center dies


The long-debated Towson transit center is dead.

State and Baltimore County officials met this week and decided there is no longer any political or business support for the idea. Studies of two alternatives to the primary site at York, Dulaney Valley and Joppa roads have ended, and the $4 million project will be scrapped. "A project of this magnitude has to be a good investment . . . for us as well as Baltimore County, said John A. Agro Jr., the Mass Transit Administration's acting administrator. "We don't want to pursue a project that does not have the necessary community and political support."

County Executive Roger B. Hayden, who supported the idea until recently, thanked the MTA for its sensitivity to local )R concerns. "They were willing to balance their needs and the wants of the Towson community and worked cooperatively with us in coming to terms with this issue," he said.

The transit center -- first proposed in 1987 -- would have moved the focus of Towson's bus traffic from the courthouse square to the triangular block at the intersection of York, Dulaney Valley and Joppa roads. The most recent design called for the construction of bus lanes and a glass-enclosed passenger waiting area.

The state spent $530,000 -- 80 percent of it federal money -- to acquire several retail stores and land at the south end of the site, but Towson merchants, with the recent backing of state legislators, opposed the site as too small and congested.

Of the alternative sites, the lot at York Road and Washington Avenue was found to be too close to homes in the area, while a narrow grassy strip on the south side of Towsontown Boulevard west of York Road was rejected because of its shape and hilly topography, Mr. Agro said.

County officials want the state to use the property it bought to help reconstruct the complex intersection and ease traffic congestion. As long as the land is used for transportation-related improvements, there is no requirement that the federal money spent so far be returned to Washington, officials said.

Mr. Agro said the state will hold onto the property it has already acquired until the State Highway Administration decides what, if anything, it will do to redesign the intersection. Whatever land the SHA needed will be turned over for that purpose, Mr. Agro said, and the rest will be sold.

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