Arrival of bulldozers puts residents on defensive


The sound of bulldozers moving earth near Monroe Avenue and Liberty Road has set off an alarm among Eldersburg residents.

They are asking the Carroll County Commissioners to address their concerns at an 11 a.m. meeting tomorrow at Liberty High School.

The road is staked and equipment is on the site, said Pat DeBoy, a Monroe Avenue resident for nine years.

"I am sure they are coming through here," Ms. DeBoy said.

"The commissioners will listen to appease people, but there is no stopping the road at this point."

For nearly 30 years, the county master plan has included an extension of Monroe Avenue south to Liberty Road (Route 26) and west to Route 32. Many residents bought their homes knowing that, but still hoped the project never would come to their neighborhood.

"They have started Phase One of the extension," said Mary Arther, a Heritage Heights resident. "We thought it was a dead issue that would never go through."

Her husband, Bill Arther, said, "We have serious traffic and safety concerns. The new road would go right by a playground."

County officials said they share those concerns and cite the health, safety and welfare of residents as justification for the road.

"The connector is meant to bring Route 26 back to the arterial function of an east-west corridor," said Helen Spinelli, a county planner. "It may not relieve traffic on Route 26, but it is meant to help circulation in the area."

The Arthers, who formed Citizens Opposed to Monroe Avenue to protest any extension to the street, organized tomorrow's meeting.

Their protest may be too late.

The county "has known it needed the road since the late 1960s," Ms. Spinelli said. "The road was always designed to connect. They are already moving dirt out there."

The extension would be a connector for several subdivisions north of Liberty Road, she said.

Ms. Arther questions the rationale of a 30-year-old plan. Many of her neighbors in the new Heritage Heights subdivision and in nearby Oklahoma Estates thought the road issue had died.

"We are talking about 300 homes with about 400 children," she said. "Traffic is bad enough now."

The county also is constructing a service road parallel to the highway to bring traffic from businesses to intersections served by traffic lights.

"We want to stress that Monroe will remain a local road with a 25-mph speed limit," Ms. Spinelli said.

Diane James, for two years a resident of Monroe Avenue, said the extension will bring too much traffic to the area.

"Drivers go too fast along this road as it is," she said.

Ms. Arther said state police monitor speeders, but speed traps and troopers are few and infrequent. She also criticized county officials.

"They are allowing all this building in Eldersburg, but they are not supplying us with the security," she said. "The county has to grow in all areas."

Driving north to Oklahoma Road to get onto Route 26 at a traffic light is a minor inconvenience, but one she is willing to continue, Ms. James said.

"It is not that hard to go around to Oklahoma Road," she said. "A faster way to Route 26 would not necessarily be a better one."

Pat and Mike DeBoy, who bought their Oklahoma Estates home nine years ago, said they always knew the extension was planned.

"If the extension had bothered us, we wouldn't have bought here," Ms. DeBoy said. "It was on the master plan for years. It's why we have all these sections of street named Monroe. You always have to tell people which section you live on."

Protest organizers have posted fliers throughout the neighborhood and have started a petition drive, which now has about 200 signatures, Ms. Arther said.

"I signed the petition, but I objected to the methods they were using," Ms. DeBoy said. "They were calling the new road the 'Eldersburg Bypass' and saying speeders would go 45 miles an hour through here.

"You will never get 100 percent [of the road's users] to follow the limit, but most of us have good sense."

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