The week-long closing of a portion of Route 30 through Hampstead next month to rebuild a railroad crossing will no doubt terribly inconvenience thousands of motorists. But this is one of those decisions in which a group of well-meaning people made the best of a bad situation.
CSX Transportation, the owner of the railroad tracks, wants to reconstruct a deteriorated grade crossing near the Black & Decker distribution plant. It was repaired two years ago but needs to be fixed again. CSX wants to install a rubberized crossing that it says will last at least a decade and provide a smoother ride for drivers.
Originally, Hampstead and State Highway Administration officials wanted the work done over a weekend to minimize the disruption caused to the 20,000 motorists that use Route 30 each day. They also wanted CSX to keep at least one lane open during repairs. But CSX said it could not afford the $15,000 in extra labor costs to finish the job over a weekend. CSX also pointed out that a partial closing of the road would not allow for a complete repair; that strategy was tried in 1991, and within a year and a half emergency repairs were needed.
The project was stymied until all the groups met with the Hampstead Town Council this month. After a thorough airing of the issues, the state highway officials agreed to permit CSX to rebuild the crossing. Work will start after the morning rush on Monday, Aug. 23 and is supposed to be finished by Friday's evening rush, Aug. 27. The work is to be done the week after the Hampstead fire department's carnival and two weeks before the start of school.
In terms of scheduling, the proposed closing appears to be about the best that could be expected. For those unfortunates who depend on Route 30, be prepared for detours to and from work that week. And pray for a break in the weather.
____________ THE VISION THING: Commissioner Donald I. Dell showed up at county offices recently wearing a strange set of eyeglasses. He had broken his, he explained, and had to borrow a pair that his wife, Leona, had cast aside. Said one wag: "Donald is finally going to see the world through a woman's eyes."