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Sykesville may be near Route 32 access solution State gives $400,000 to extend Third Avenue


Sykesville officials say they may be close to settling a long-standing controversy about local access to Route 32.

The State Highway Administration has made $400,000 available to extend Third Avenue to Route 32, often called the Sykesville bypass. The town also plans to eliminate another dangerous intersection nearby.

For several years, the town has been pushing for two roads to ease the traffic crunch on Obrecht Road, which serves as access to Route 32 for about 5,000 cars a day. Just inside the town boundary at the community ball fields, Obrecht becomes Third Avenue. It is at that point that planners envision two roads.

One road would make a loop around the northern end of Fairhaven Retirement Community and improve flow for traffic headed north to Route 26 in Eldersburg, they say.

The other road would extend the existing Third Avenue east to the highway. The project would eliminate the need for a crossing at Springfield Avenue, where poor visibility has caused several accidents.

The state money, two-thirds of the estimated $600,000 needed to build a connection from Third Avenue, marks the first time the state has contributed to the proposed project.

"We are hoping we can get the state to fund our whole intersection project," said Matthew H. Candland, town manager. "Third Avenue is the most logical site for an intersection. Of course, we would have to come up with some creative financing."

That creativity could include a combined contribution from the town, whose annual budget is slightly more than $1.2 million, and Fairhaven, said Mayor Jonathan S. Herman.

"We are very close," Mr. Herman said. "Within the next month, we will figure out the remaining financing."

The SHA met recently with town and county officials and Fairhaven representatives to review plans.

"Conceptually, we are in agreement," Mr. Candland said. "I see it happening within the next three or four years."

If the Third Avenue extension is built, it will improve visibility along the curving stretch of the highway. With a new connector, the town could close the Springfield Avenue intersection, now the nearest access for Fairhaven residents.

The town is hoping to construct the Third Avenue project at the same time the county realigns Route 32 to create another intersection with the bypass north of town.

The county has planned a realignment of Obrecht Road around the northern end of Fairhaven, but, although $2 million has been budgeted for the project, it has never gone to bid. The county lacks the easements to build on Fairhaven land based on the present design. Engineers cannot move the road farther north without affecting wetlands.

Unless the Third Avenue extension is funded, Fairhaven officials have said, they will not grant the county easements to realign Obrecht Road.

"It all depends on the town, Fairhaven and the state," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell. "The changes we have made are to Fairhaven's benefit."

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