Highway projects suspended due to lack of funds Spending to fall below $400M by 1997


State transportation officials told Anne Arundel County politicians and community members yesterday that dwindling resources will put many local highway projects on hold.

Hal Kassoff, state highway administrator, said that tax revenue and federal grants during the booming development years of the 1980s helped boost spending for highway projects. Resources peaked in 1990 when the state set aside $750 million for roads.

As the economy weakened, tax revenues fell. "The outlook for the late 1990s looks poor," Mr. Kassoff said, predicting that combined federal and state spending for highway projects will fall below $400 million a year by the 1997 fiscal year.

The drop in highway construction money means fewer high-ticket projects and a concentration on road preservation and maintenance.

Some projects -- including the widening of part of Mountain Road in Pasadena, the beautification of Rowe Boulevard leading into Annapolis and the construction of a new interchange to relieve congestion at College Parkway and Ritchie Highway -- have been placed on hold indefinitely.

Lawmakers expressed concern about seeing their pet projects delayed, but greeted the news with resignation and some impatience about its uncertainty. Constituents want to know "are we going ahead with it or are we not going to go ahead," said Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Brooklyn Park Democrat.

Mr. Kassoff replied that as revenue becomes available, projects such as the $10 million plan to widen Mountain Road from Route 100 to South Carolina Avenue will be considered. In the meantime, the state highway agency is looking at ways to make the intersection where Route 100 meets Mountain Road safer.

Despite the lack of resources, Secretary of Transportation O. James Lighthizer pointed to more than $1 billion being spent in Anne Arundel during the next decade. Key projects are:

* Construction on I-97 totaling $270 million, including $100 million to widen the highway to six lanes from south of Route 174 to the Beltway, and the reconstruction of an interchange at Route 100.

* Nearly completed work on Route 32, totaling $88 million, including an interchange at the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

* A $109 million project to extend Route 100 from I-95 to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. The project is about half done and should be finished in early 1995. An extension of Route 100 from the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to I-97, costing $67 million, is about 25 percent done and should be completed by the end of 1995.

* The completed widening of U.S. Route 50 from I-97 to the Severn River for $150 million. A second project, to widen the highway from the Patuxent River to I-97 for $66 million should be done next spring.

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