A powerful legislative committee chairman took state transportation officials to task yesterday in Annapolis for their decision to scrap the Manchester bypass and four other highway projects that were found to be incompatible with Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth policies.
Del. Ron Guns, chairman of the House Environmental Matters Committee, questioned Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari and Marsha Kaiser, department planning director, about whether their Smart Growth criteria on bypasses adequately considered the quality of life in the towns.
"Smart Growth is good but we've got to put some common sense in this thing," said Guns, a Cecil County Democrat.
He specifically noted the Manchester project, where local officials want a bypass to relieve traffic congestion on Route 30 which runs through the heart of the town. "We don't want to promote dumb growth either," said Guns. "You make that Route 30 a driving nightmare, you're promoting dumb growth."
Plans for a Westminster bypass also were scrapped by the governor last month.
Other members of the House committee questioned whether sprawl was inevitable with a bypass.
Del. Kenneth D. Schisler, an Eastern Shore Republican, mentioned the U.S. 13 bypass around Salisbury, where access is limited to a few entrances.
Porcari said it was not clear whether a limited-access solution would be possible in Manchester.
Kaiser said the department hopes to work with the communities to find alternative traffic solutions.
Although Carroll legislators have taken several hits this session with the cancellation of major projects, they celebrated a minor victory yesterday.
In a meeting with the Senate budget committee, General Assembly staff members snubbed the governor and recommended keeping a $53 million Law Enforcement Training Center in Sykesville. The budget committee generally accepts such recommendations, said Del. Joseph M. Getty, a Manchester Republican.
"The fact that this is a staff recommendation is a big victory for Carroll County," said Getty. "This is not the Carroll County delegation pleading. It is a staff recommendation that will be taken seriously."
The state has spent more than $20 million -- about 28 percent of the total cost -- at the site, once part of Springfield Hospital Center. Glendening scrapped the remaining phases of the project, saying the Sykesville location did not match his Smart Growth initiative.
Pub Date: 2/10/99