State plans expansion of light rail in Anne Arundel


Light rail service in northern Anne Arundel County will expand over the next few years, but the state could slash the number of the county's public bus routes.

State transportation officials said yesterday that the extension of the Central Light Rail Line to Baltimore-Washington International Airport should be complete by June 1997. The BWI spur is one of three planned extensions; the others will connect the line to Hunt Valley and Penn Station in Baltimore.

An environmental consultant is evaluating the state's plans to extend light rail to downtown Glen Burnie and, possibly, Marley Station Mall, said Mass Transit Administrator John Agro Jr. The $322,000 report is due next summer.

To meet the rising demand for parking along the light rail line, particularly during Orioles games at Camden Yards, the state is doubling the number of parking spaces at the North Linthicum station, Mr. Agro said. The station will have 333 spaces beginning Jan. 1.

The state is also negotiating to acquire 2 acres across Old Annapolis Road as a possible auxiliary lot, Mr. Agro said.

Although demand for light rail is growing, "bus ridership in Anne Arundel County has been less than a satisfying experience," the transit chief said.

Bus ridership has dropped, and the Mass Transit Administration might cut the number of routes through Brooklyn Park, Linthicum and Riviera Beach, Mr. Agro said, adding that the state is considering reductions in a third of the 66 routes throughout the metropolitan area.

County officials also learned that construction is nearly complete on the extension of Interstate 97 from Quarterfield Road to the Baltimore Beltway, and on the east-west extension of Route 100 from Glen Burnie to Elkridge.

State Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff said the Route 100 connections between I-97 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway should be complete by spring, if not sooner. The I-97 project should be finished during the summer, he said.

Construction delays will come next at Route 2 and U.S. 50, Mr. Kassoff said, when crews will start widening U.S. 50 to six lanes through the intersection to ease traffic heading to the beach.

Mr. Kassoff said Route 32 near the National Security Agency and Mountain Road near the Route 100 terminus will not get needed improvements because of a lack of money. Steve Cover, director of Anne Arundel County Planning and Code Enforcement, said widening Route 32 west of Fort Meade is a priority of County Executive John G. Gary.

Mr. Kassoff said the state has tried unsuccessfully to get the federal government to share the $70 million cost of improving that segment of Route 32.

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