Completion of the last section of a partly built connector linking Veterans Highway to Route 2 is pitting two of the county's largest and most organized communities against each other.
Severna Park has fought for 30 years for funding to complete East-West Boulevard, which residents see as the only solution to congestion along Benfield Boulevard.
But the third and final part of that road, long planned but not budgeted for by the county, would unload heaps of cars into one of Pasadena's biggest traffic headaches: Catherine Avenue.
Pasadena residents have been waging their own struggle since the late 1980s to turn part of that avenue into a one-way street. Several children have been hit by cars on Catherine, which is overwhelmed by motorists trying to reach notoriously crowded Mountain Road and Route 100.
Pasadena residents, led by their County Council member, Thomas W. Redmond Sr., will face off against Severna Park residents, led by their council member, Diane R. Evans, at Monday's special budget hearing. While Severna Park presses for the road work, the Pasadena contingents will ask that it be put off for a year while another route is researched.
The two sides will base their arguments on evidence that sounds similar: Roads in their community cannot handle more traffic.
"It's a very 'us against them' mentality," said Pasadena resident Marcia Mia, who opposes the road. "That's what we found when we brought the issue to the Severna Park Council. It's very disheartening that they didn't want to look at the problems they're creating for our part of town. They think East-West Boulevard is the big solution, and it's just not."
Most aggravating for Severna Park residents is that having come so far in achieving their long-awaited road, they must endure what some call a "sudden uprising" from Pasadena that threatens to halt the project.
"The Pasadena Council does a great job for its area, but they've got to realize most of the intersections along Ritchie Highway are failed intersections," said Larry Masterson, president of the Greater Severna Park Council. He meant that the intersections with Route 2 cannot move all the waiting traffic through in one cycle of red-to-green lights.
"Yes, there are going to be increases in traffic," he said, "but the cost involved in resolving all these issues -- Mountain Road, Ritchie Highway, Catherine Avenue -- means [that] nothing will happen for another 20 years. It's hard enough getting something into the budget, and to risk taking it out now, [and] having to compete again with all the other projects means we'll end up with a $10 million cul-de-sac." The East-West Boulevard now dead-ends at Governor Stone Parkway.
Pasadena residents say they weren't aware of the impact on their area until a county report from last year surfaced recently showing that the Route 2 intersection and several other Pasadena intersections will fail with the additional traffic.
Pub Date: 5/07/98