Severna Park group seeks voice in transit plans Goal is to present questions early, head off projects that are unwelcome

Will light rail heading for Marley Station be built down the median of Ritchie Highway, follow the Baltimore-Annapolis hiking trail or travel along a new route elsewhere?

Will the controversial East-West Boulevard have an 80-foot or a 110-foot right of way? How long after the current widening of Ritchie Highway to six lanes will the road again reach capacity?


The Greater Severna Park Council's goal is to affect transportation projects before they become realities by asking such questions and airing community concerns.

But answers don't come easy.


For example, a report by a regional transportation advisory group lists the central light rail extension to Marley Station but doesn't specify where the route would go.

"They must be thinking something, and we don't know what it is," said Pat Troy, president of the Severna Park council.

Because transportation projects involve complex environmental impact and other studies, she said, "I'm not too shocked they don't know the details, though from our perspective it would be helpful to know more."

The council is working hard to head off unwelcome county or state projects by getting involved in the early stages of transportation planning.

"The only thing we can do is ask questions," Ms. Troy told the group at its monthly meeting Tuesday. "Our role is to ask the right kinds of questions to be sure [our] concerns are addressed, so the decisions made are informed decisions."

Ms. Troy was named this year to the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, a nonprofit organization that coordinates long-range transportation planning for Baltimore and five suburban counties.

The Severna Park council has expressed concern about the vagueness of several transportation goals listed in a Baltimore Metropolitan Council plan called the 2020 report.

Ms. Troy and others developed a position paper to send to the Baltimore Metropolitan Council this week. The comments highlight proposals in the report that would affect greater Severna Park, such as East-West Boulevard, destined some day to connect Interstate 97 and Ritchie Highway.


The report mentions the planned road but doesn't clarify what roles the county and state would play in building it or how wide a right of way is planned, Ms. Troy said. "No one knows. Or if they know, they won't tell me," she said.

The wider right of way is "particularly intolerable to the adjacent communities because it is felt to portend a four-lane road in the future," she said.

The Severna Park council's observations about the 2020 report mention growing local support for a bicycle-pedestrian overpass to be built in conjunction with the widening of Ritchie Highway. The report also expresses the council's concerns over a possible interchange at Ritchie Highway and College Parkway.

The council also is working closely with the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce and other community groups to develop a long-term plan for Severna Park, Ms. Troy said.

"This is our first real opportunity to say, 'If you do this, these are points we think you should be looking at,' " she said.

In previous years, the council probably wouldn't have been "cranked into the process" this early, Ms. Troy said. "This is probably the earliest we've been involved" in talking with relevant county and state agencies, she said.