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Neighbors divided over road


Plans to straighten West Earleigh Heights Road and give commuters easy access to Ritchie Highway met with fierce opposition from a community that feels "pinched" by those plans and another county road project.

Chip Mahan, a Greater Severna Park Council delegate from Brittingham, and Reggie Baxter, a delegate from Chartwell, said their housing developments oppose the $2.4 million realignment of West Earleigh Heights Road because it would bring more noise, traffic and danger to their neighborhoods.

The project is one of three major, multimillion-dollar road projects for Severna Park included in County Executive John G. Gary's budget.

The county also wants to widen Jumpers Hole Road and expand East West Boulevard from Veterans Highway to Ritchie Highway.

"We're pinched between two major road systems," said Mr. Mahan, whose neighborhood would be between the East West Boulevard expansion and West Earleigh Heights Road.

"You straighten [West Earleigh Heights Road] and the speed's going to increase and trucks are going to be going through there," he said during a Greater Severna Park Council meeting this week.

Realigning West Earleigh Heights Road would create a new intersection between that road and Jumpers Hole Road between Overlea and Pineview avenues. The intersection of Kinder and Jumpers Hole roads also would be realigned with the new West Earleigh Heights Road intersection.

Mr. Baxter said Chartwell residents are also worried about the West Earleigh Heights Road plan. They fear motorists will use Lynwood Road, which cuts through their community, instead of Jumpers Hole Road to travel north and south between Benfield Road and West Earleigh Heights Road.

The East West Boulevard extension has divided Severna Park residents for decades, but tensions seem to have calmed over the issue.

Mr. Mahan was the only delegate at the meeting who seemed opposed to the connection between Veterans and Ritchie highways. "I think the main concern in that area is that the road is going to hook up with Route 10," he said yesterday.

The budget proposes that the county build the $6.5 million, 1.75-mile extension. It would be a two-lane road with shoulders and an 80-foot right of way. The road, which now ends at Governor Stone Parkway in Shipley's Choice, would connect to Ritchie Highway near the West Pasadena-Route 2 intersection, just south of Route 10.

Resident Pat Troy, said the road is long overdue. "I think it's really essential to handle the amount of traffic over there," she said.

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