If this were a perfect world, a Route 140 bypass would not be needed. But we don't live in such a world. The reality is that Carroll County's road system is inadequate for the current volume of traffic let alone the expected growth in population.
The number of registered vehicles in Carroll jumped by 141 percent from 1980 to 1992, at twice the rate for the region and behind only Howard County in the rate of growth. (Carroll had 48,000 registered vehicles in 1980; 116,000 in 1992.)
People opposed to any of the possible bypass routes are staking out a position that is equivalent to sticking their heads in the sand. As long as large tracts of land in the county continue to become residential developments, the county's road system will have to expand. Unless development is halted -- and plenty of economically depressed communities in Western Maryland and elsewhere will attest that you don't want that to happen -- there is no alternative to expanding the road network.
Traffic is already clogging Westminster. State traffic studies count more than 43,000 cars a day along the most crowded stretches of commercially-laden Route 140. Within 10 years, studies project the number of cars and trucks using the road daily to increase by nearly 60 percent to 68,000.
During rush hour, traffic already backs up for long stretches. It can takes 10 minutes to travel a mile or two through Westminster due to the traffic signal backups. People trying to leave shopping centers and other businesses with access to the road have to muscle their way into the flow unless they want to sit in the parking lot all evening.
The issue is not whether a bypass should be built. The issue is determining the optimum route for such a bypass that would cause the least destruction to the land and existing communities.
Easy access to Route 140 is the cause of most of today's problems. Restoring limited access to Route 140 is one solution, although at this point, that would be like trying to squeeze toothpaste back into the tube. None of the shopping centers, businesses or churches with driveways to the main roads is prepared to relinquish that access.
The new bypass should have limited access so the same scenario isn't repeated. Otherwise, a couple of decades from now, there will be a need for a bypass to the bypass.