In a display of solidarity yesterday, three state legislators, the Carroll commissioners and the mayors of Manchester and Hampstead asked Maryland Secretary of Transportation O. James Lighthizer to make the proposed Manchester and Hampstead bypasses an urgent priority.
After their meeting at Maryland Department of Transportation headquarters at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, State Highway Administrator Hal Kasoff said the Manchester bypass "has come back to life" in the state's eyes as a result of the discussion.
He said state representatives had entered the meeting thinking there was disagreement over the route of the Manchester
During the meeting, he displayed a map showing 10 routes for the Manchester bypass that have been discussed in recent years.
But Manchester Mayor Earl A.J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. said the Manchester Town Council and Carroll's commissioners have agreed to a route for the Manchester bypass as shown on the Manchester master plan.
Del. Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll; Del. Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll; and Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, expressed support for the projects.
"I think we're due" for funding for a road project, said Mr. Dixon, who added it has been more than 24 years since the Mount Airy bypass was built.
"People in our county pay taxes just like people all over the state of Maryland," he said.
"It takes 10 to 15 minutes to get across Route 30" in Manchester and Hampstead during rush hours, said Mr. Matthews.
"One of the keys to economic development -- probably the key -- is the bypass," said Hampstead Mayor Clint Becker.
The three Carroll commissioners expressed support for both bypasses. However, Commissioner Donald I. Dell said he
believes "the ultimate solution" to Carroll traffic problems is the extension of Interstate 795.
At the urging of Mr. Dixon, representatives of the state, Carroll County, Manchester and Hampstead agreed to meet in March to commit themselves to a final route alignment for both the Hampstead and Manchester bypasses.
However, Mr. Lighthizer said he does not believe there will be money to build the bypasses until there is another tax increase at the state level, perhaps in 1995.
"It won't come on my watch," Mr. Lighthizer said.
Mr. Kasoff said the Hampstead bypass is expected to cost $35 million, including $16.5 million for land purchases and $18.5 million for construction. Design of the Hampstead segment has already been funded, he said.
The Manchester bypass, which is slightly shorter, would cost an estimated $25 million to $30 million, he said.
From the day the funding becomes available, Mr. Kasoff said, it would take another 18 months before construction on the Hampstead bypass could begin. The land must be purchased, and federal planning requirements must be met.
Construction would take another two years, he said.
The Manchester bypass is about four years behind the Hampstead bypass in the planning and design process, he said.
Even if the money were available now, he said, construction of the Manchester bypass would still be several years away.
"We're not even out of the starting gate on the Manchester
bypass," Mr. Kasoff said. "We can see the finish line" on the Hampstead project.