Maryland looks to add express toll lanes to 95
State transportation officials have begun studying whether to build express toll lanes as part of the second phase of a plan to widen Interstate 95 between Baltimore and the Delaware state line, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced yesterday.
Adding two toll lanes in each direction is one of the options being considered as the state begins planning for a roughly 16-mile segment of I-95 running from White Marsh to Aberdeen.
The managed toll lanes appear to be a likely choice because the Maryland Transportation Authority is already building such lanes in the 10-mile segment between the Beltway and White Marsh.
Ehrlich, who held a Cabinet gathering yesterday in Harford County, said the effort is aimed at reducing congestion in a corridor where traffic volume is expected to increase by about 40 percent by 2030.
Trent Kittleman, executive secretary of the transportation authority, said she hopes the planning process can be completed in about two years.
Under the federal planning process, the state must look at several different alternatives for the project, including the impact of not building it. In addition to the express lanes and the so-called no-build option, the state will also study adding free general purpose lanes.
But Kittleman indicated that continuing the express lanes now being built may be the most likely solution. "It wouldn't make sense to change horses in the middle of the stream," she said.
State Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan has been a vocal advocate of tollbooth-free express lanes - with electronic collections and tolls that vary with the level of traffic congestion.
The planning project is the second of four envisioned for the I-95 corridor. Future phases will consider adding capacity to the highway closer to Delaware.
Under the express lane plan to be studied, two new toll lanes would be added in each direction between Route 43 and Route 543 in the Belcamp area of Harford County. Under that option, one additional free, general purpose lane would be added between Route 543 and Route 24.
Another option would expand the current general-purpose lanes to six in each direction between Routes 43 and 152, five between Routes 152 and 543 and four from 543 to Route 22 in Aberdeen.
The authority said it would hold a public workshop on the project from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 22 at Old Post Road Elementary School, 2706 Old Philadelphia Road in Abingdon.
Democratic activist plans to run
After losing a close primary race in 2002, Democratic Party activist Penny McCrimmon is running again for the Baltimore County Council seat in the district that includes Randallstown.
McCrimmon lost by 500 votes in the 2002 Democratic primary in the 4th District to Kenneth N. Oliver, who cruised to victory in the general election to become the council's first African-American member. Oliver has filed to run for re-election.
McCrimmon, 57, said she wants to tackle quality-of-life issues, such as crime and development.
Body of man found by track
The body of a 55-year-old man was found near a running track at a Baltimore County high school early yesterday, authorities said.
The body was discovered about 4:30 a.m. by people coming to exercise at the track at Woodlawn High School in the 1800 block of Woodlawn Drive, county police said. The man's identity was being withheld until relatives were notified.
There was no sign of foul play, said Cpl. Michael Hill, a Police Department spokesman. Hill said the body would be taken to the state medical examiner's office to determine the cause of death.
Man arrested, suspected in 20 crimes
A suspect in a string of robberies in Baltimore County has been arrested, authorities said yesterday.
Wilford Odell Trafton, 38, of the 1200 block of Winston Ave. in Baltimore has been charged with three counts of armed robbery, attempted armed robbery and handgun use in a violent crime, police said. Trafton is a suspect in more than 20 robberies in Baltimore County since April 2, police said.
A police officer answering a call for a robbery of an Exxon station in the 800 block of York Road on Sunday saw a man fitting the description of the suspect getting gas in the 800 block of Dulaney Valley Road and arrested Trafton. Trafton is charged in the robbery Sunday of the Exxon on York Road; another robbery that day, at an Exxon in the 8100 block of Belair Road; and the robbery Saturday of an Exxon in the 200 block of E. Joppa Road, court records show.
According to charging documents, Trafton confessed to those robberies. A ski mask and a loaded 9 mm handgun were found in his car, according to court papers. Trafton said he bought $100 to $120 worth of heroin each day and that the robberies were committed to support his drug addiction, court papers show.
County prosecutors were to review the case to determine whether other charges should be brought. Trafton was being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center, police said. His bail review is scheduled for today, police said.
Broken pipe caused sewage backup
County officials yesterday worked to repair a break in a pipe that caused sewage to back up into half a dozen homes in the Eastpoint area, authorities said.
Two days of heavy rain late last week caused a failure in a sewer line in the 500 block of S. North Point Road, officials said. Sewage was pumped Friday and Saturday from six area homes. Two of the six homes needed to be pumped twice, said David Fidler, a spokesman for the county Department of Public Works.
Officials hoped to have the sewer line fixed by today.