Rural Interstates Built for Speed
I have done considerable driving in states where 65 miles per hour is the limit, and traffic moves a long steadily -- and safely -- at 65 to 70 mph. There are always a few speed demons who travel at much greater rates, but not many.
Fact is, here in Maryland the traffic also moves at 65 to 70, except that the drivers are paying more attention to looking for cops than they are to their driving.
The 55-ers who say "leave 10 minutes earlier" overlook the fact that a six-hour trip at 65 becomes a seven-hour trip at 55. That's another hour on the road, during which time the now-tired driver is at risk -- and so are the people on the road with him.
The roads were built for the higher speed, so I welcome the initiative by our new governor to decriminalize common sense.
Psst, wanna know a well-guarded secret?
Our taxes are going up, and the only question is when and by how much. The current debate about raising impact fees is only a forerunner of future events that will disturb the county's tranquil environment and cause the sale of Tylenol pills to soar. . . .
Growth, as we all know, is inevitable. There is no time machine to transport us back to the early days when only a few homes dotted the landscape and the public services were up to the task. Most, but not everyone, accepts that reality and fervently -- hope that those who have the power to do so will make every effort, not necessarily to stem the tide, but to at least manage the county's growth. A replay of the 1889 Oklahoma land rush we don't need.
Those "doggone immigrants," as the mountain men of old referred to the settlers heading west, couldn't be stopped then and they won't be stopped now. By the year 2010, it is conservatively estimated that the county's population will be over the 170,000 mark, growing at a rate of about 3 percent a year.
Where are they all going to live, one might ask? Are we going to try to keep the new homes clustered around the existing municipalities or, in what would be the worst case scenario, allow developments to be sprawled along the county's highways and byways without adequate infrastructure?
Given that there are not sufficient funds to take care of the capital improvements that are already on the books, like the six or more schools that will be needed by the turn of the century, the question of whether taxes will have to be raised is largely an academic one. . . .
When one considers that merely raising the "piggyback" tax by 1 percent and the property tax rate by 1 cent would bring in $1.4 million and $300,000 respectively to the county's coffers, the idea is not as repugnant as one might have thought and certainly wouldn't cause me to race to the medicine cabinet. Taking the arithmetic a step further, if the "piggyback" tax went up to 55 percent, the level it is in a number of counties, and the property tax rate increased just 10 cents, that would produce in excess of $10 million in additional revenues, a figure that makes the monies to be realized by increasing the impact fees seem rather paltry. . . .
So grin and bear it, fellow citizens. This day of reckoning is nigh, but you can take consolation in knowing that your children and your children's children will be the beneficiaries of your foresight.
There has been another fatality since the Feb. 13 town meeting in Sykesville, as the result of an accident at the Springfield Avenue intersection with Route 32. There has also been another long article in The Sun wherein a Carroll County planner indulges in his perennial daydream of a four-lane highway through property the county does not own.
He knows, as do town and county officials, that his fanciful design has no chance of being built for years. It is questionable whether environmental agencies would approve of destruction of wetlands. There is no question that his design would have a severe impact on the ballfields adjoining Obrecht Road. It is uncertain whether money could be found to pay for a multi-million dollar project.
The alternative route -- improving the existing rights of way of Obrecht Road and Third Avenue and constructing a short extension through the Fairhaven property to Route 32 -- could be built this summer at a modest cost and open to traffic by fall. All that is needed is for public officials to decide to do it now. In the meantime, we continue to have accidents. How many fatalities does it take to make the case?