Carroll commissioners gave their go-ahead yesterday for the county and State Highway Administration to begin working on plans to improve traffic flow on a stretch of heavily traveled Liberty Road.
"They want to get started, and we obviously want to get started, too," Steven Horn, Carroll's director of planning, told the three commissioners.
The state has decided to divide the road work into two sections: the first from Liberty Reservoir east of Route 32 toward Baltimore County; the second from Route 32 west toward Route 97, according to an outline of the plan by Parker F. Williams, state highways administrator.
Planning major improvements to traffic flow and safety on the first section should take about a year, Horn said. Carroll and the state will split the $400,000 cost of designing the first section, and an agreement with the state is being drafted.
"Separating the project will allow us to concentrate efforts on this area and move through the planning process more quickly," Williams wrote in a July 6 letter to Horn.
The project is a high priority for the county because the road is a major - and often congested - artery in South Carroll, with more than 32,000 vehicles a day.
Horn said enough money is in the county budget to proceed with construction.
"I think the main focus is supporting the construction," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell.
Horn said the state also wants the commissioners to name a focus group of 10 to 15 residents, business people and officials to begin meeting this summer to develop ideas for revitalization and streetscape improvements in the Liberty Road area.
"We actually have some folks that requested to be part of a group," he said.
In other action yesterday, the commissioners:
Approved a zoning waiver requested by New Windsor. The town plans to annex a 3 1/2 -acre parcel on Route 31, known as the Coale property, for an industrial park and asked for a zoning change from agricultural to industrial, said Horn.
The 45-day waiting period has been completed since the town's public hearing on the annexation, and it can annex the property whenever it likes.
"It's very consistent with the town's plans," Horn said. "It's eventually to become part of a larger employment campus on the north side of Maryland 31."
Heard from Horn that a concrete traffic island, known as a "pork chop," will be removed from a lane of southbound Route 30 at North Carroll Plaza, between Manchester and Hampstead. "It's pretty amazing, the way that thing's sticking right out there in the lane," he said. "It was reviewed at many levels, but it was never apparent that it would become a problem."
The issue was raised by Republican Del. Joseph M. Getty of Manchester, who wrote several letters last month about residents' and his concerns for drivers - long accustomed to having two lanes - suddenly coming upon the island in the right-hand lane.