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Harford's $28 million state highway wish list includes more lanes for Routes 22 and 24

The Aegis
Harford hasn't fared well in getting new state highway money in recent years

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has submitted a state transportation funding wish list of 16 projects that includes adding travel lanes along Routes 22 and 24 in the Bel Air area and installing roundabouts at several intersections, including Route 23 and Grafton Shop Road in Forest Hill.

The projects as a group have an estimated price tag of almost $28 million.

The request, sent in a letter earlier this month to Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, also includes funding for improvements to the junction of the Bel Air Bypass (Route 1) and Route 24 in Bel Air, improvements to the I-95/Route 543 interchange in Belcamp/Riverside and the addition of a high occupancy vehicle lane along the eastbound shoulder of Route 22 between Route 132 and the gate at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

In addition to Route 23 and Grafton Shop Road, funding is requested to build roundabouts at Route 159 and Old Philadelphia Road (Route 7) in Perryman, at Route 7 and Stepney Road between Riverside and Aberdeen and at Route 23 and Route 146 in Madonna/Jarrettsville.

Funding is also requested for a raised median along Route 22 from Brierhill Drive to Moores Mill Road in Bel Air and for a series of changes along Route 22 from Route 1 in Bel Air to Middleton Road in Aberdeen that would consist of "consolidating access points and restricting turn movements," according to the list of individual projects.

"Harford County's request for state funding identifies 16 achievable transportation projects to reduce traffic congestion, and enhance safety and mobility for our citizens and the traveling public," Glassman said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

The request for FY17 state transportation funding was made in a March 7 letter to Rahn that was co-signed by County Council President Richard Slutzky and Del. Rick Impallaria, who is chairman of Harford's legislative delegation.

The letter says the list of projects is updated from one submitted a year earlier and "represent[s] the highest priorities based on four categories:" highway capacity improvements; highway safety/operational improvements; transit improvements; and bicycle and pedestrian shared path.

The request was made to coincide with the state transportation budget funding process, county government spokesperson Cindy Mumby said.

Harford was, for all intents and purposes, left off a supplemental list of highway improvements around the state that Gov. Larry Hogan funded last summer. County officials have tried to put the best face on that snub, claiming Harford has continued to receive funding for intersection upgrades along both Routes 22 and 40 in the Aberdeen Proving Ground area related to mission and job gains at the post from the federal base realignment process, or BRAC.

Most of the prior funded improvements are listed in Glassman's letter, as is planned improvements to the Shucks Road/Thomas Run Road intersection at Route 22 by Harford Community College slated to begin this year, for which he thanks MDOT "for the continual support it has provided."

Accompanying the letter are individual description sheets for each project, listed in priority from one to 16. The addition of one travel lane in each direction along Route 22 from Prospect Mill Road to Thomas Run/Schucks Road by HCC is listed first, at an estimated cost of $7.5 million.

The highway is notoriously congested because it is just a single lane in each direction from Route 543 in Fountain Green to just before I-95 in Aberdeen. Glassman's request notes the additional lane project "has been designed and funded. However, the construction of these improvements has been delayed."

Adding a third northbound travel lane to Route 24 between Singer and Plumtree Roads in Abingdon/Bel Air South is listed as the second priority, with an estimated cost of $1.5 million. The project is necessary, according to the request, to relieve congestion, particularly in peak afternoon/evening hours.

The third priority is the addition of a second left turn lane from the Bel Air Bypass onto Route 24, heading toward Bel Air, with an estimated cost of $5 million. The request states that traffic waiting to turn backs up into a high speed through lane, creating hazardous conditions.

Building a roundabout at Route 159 in Perryman is fourth priority, estimated to cost $1.5 million. The project is necessary to improve access to a growing industrial area and hence for economic development, according to the request.

Fifth priority is adding a second left turn lane from northbound Route 543 to the southbound ramp of the I-95 interchange to remove what the request says is an unsafe condition for motorists. Estimated cost is $500,000.

Other projects for which funding is requested, listed in priority, are:

• Widening and extending the eastbound merge lane of Route 22 before and after the Route 543 intersection in anticipation of converting it into a shared lane for transit. Estimated cost is $1 million to $2 million.

• Construction of a high occupancy vehicle lane on the eastbound shoulder of Route 22 from Route 132, or Post Road, to the main APG employee and contractor gate, estimated cost $500,000. Under the proposal, the HOV lane would be open daily from 5 to 9 a.m.

• Construction of a roundabout at Route 23 and Grafton Shop Road in Forest Hill, estimated cost $1 million. The request states that "numerous crashes have occurred at this intersection over the years." In the past, however, state highway officials have said that the crash incidence rate at the intersection, controlled only by stop signs on Grafton Shop, was not sufficient to warrant a signal.

• The request to construct a raised median along Route 22 from Brierhill Drive to Moores Mill Road, estimated to cost $150,000, states: "This is the only section of MD 22 without the raised median between Route 543 and the Town of Bel Air," and "installing this improvement creates a tree-lined parkway entrance into the Town of Bel Air from the East."

• Additional development – and resultant congestion – along Route 7 around Stepney Road is cited in the request for a roundabout at that intersection, estimated cost $1 million.

• In the transit category, upward of $2.6 million is requested to construct additional parking around the Aberdeen MARC/Amtrak station and for access and other improvements to adjacent East Bel Air Avenue.

• Funding up to $2.2 million is requested for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, including "Share the Road" signage, along Route 22 from the Bel Air area into Aberdeen.

• Funding is requested for a bicycle and pedestrian connection/path along the right-of-way of MacPhail Road in Bel Air from the McFaul Activity Center/MVA office to Route 924. Except from 924 into the Homestead-Wakefield Elementary complex, this route is not now open to vehicles or pedestrians.

• Construction of a bicycle/pedestrian connection also is requested between Upper Chesapeake Medical Center at Route 24 and MacPhail Road in Bel Air to Route 24 and Boulton Street at Harford Mall, estimated cost $600,000.

• Safety improvements are requested at points from Route 1 in Bel Air along Route 22 to Aberdeen. Included are adding a median on Route 1 between Bel Air Plaza and Bel Air Town Center, to restrict left turns, and removing the signal at Kelly Avenue and Route 1; changes in the median along Route 543 south of Route 22 "to channelize left turns in and out of the Wawa;" relocation of the signal at Route 22 and the entrance to Campus Hill Shopping Center west to Campus Hills Drive; and providing access to Beards Hill Shopping Center in Aberdeen from Route 22/Middleton Road. The estimated cost for all the improvements is $605,000.

• Construction of a roundabout at the so-called Madonna intersection of Routes 23 and 146, a major commuter route from northern Harford County to Towson and points south, estimated cost $750,00.

Glassman's letter also states the county expects completion of a comprehensive study of the Route 924 from Bel Air to Abingdon to identify "ultimate improvements for a livable street and resilient community" and adds: "We solicit the support of MDOT as we determine future capital projects along this corridor."

This article is updated with a correction. The first priority project for which state funding requested is to construct additional travel lanes in each direction on Route 22 from Prospect Mill Road to Thomas Run/Schucks Road at Harford Community College.

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