The long-discussed extension of Middleton Road from Route 22 to Beards Hill Road in Aberdeen needs to move forward, the city's mayor told City Council members earlier this week.
Mayor Patrick McGrady had a site map projected onto the council chamber's video screen during Monday night's council meeting to emphasize his points why the project is needed, first and foremost, as a traffic control measure, one that will in turn spur planned development in that part of the city.
"There is no plan yet; we're still trying come up with a plan ... we have no idea how to make it work," said the mayor, who nonetheless added they need to make the extension "a priority of ours."
Shown on the map projected for the council was a nearly straight northern extension of "Middleton Road," also known locally and depicted on some maps as "Middleton Lane," from the stub east of Route 22 to Beards Hill, where it would end by the entrance of a new 198-unit apartment complex under development called Summerlin. The three-way Middleton and Route 22 intersection is already controlled by a traffic signal for vehicles entering and leaving the commercial area south of Route 22.
McGrady, who was hampered by not having a working laser pointer, said the city would probably need to build a roundabout to connect Middleton with Beards Hill and the entrance to the new Summerlin community, which makes it imperative they move ahead quickly.
"There's a lot of value to the city, a lot of benefit to the people," he said, explaining that as more development occurs, they need to move traffic away from using the intersection of Beards Hill and Route 22, which serves a heavily developed commercial area, as well as residential communities on both sides of Route 22, and already is prone to traffic stacking.
A major upgrade to the Beards Hill intersection and others along Route 22 south to Aberdeen Proving Ground is nearing completion, but that won't solve the congestion at Beards Hill, the mayor and several council members agreed, particularly with more development coming.
Because of the additional traffic generated, McGrady said, they would also need to consider adding a roundabout or a traffic light at the intersection of Beards Hill and Paradise Road, the latter which is a state highway.
McGrady previously raised the need to get moving on the Middleton extension during a council and staff retreat in November, when he said he had initiated discussions with the owners of properties that would be affected by the project and who would be expected to contribute a portion of the cost. Those talks have continued, he said.
The route shown Monday would extend the road along the east side of Home Depot and Beards Hill Plaza and along the west side of the Aberdeen Hills community. Undeveloped parcels of land along the route are owned by the Klein family, which also owns the shopping center, and partnerships involving Joseph Salvo and Charles Vickers, according to tax records.
"We've always supported this effort," Howard Klein, vice president and general counsel for the Klein Family businesses, said through a spokesperson Thursday. He said he has met with city representatives about the project.
Representatives of the Salvo family did not return messages seeking comment.
The Klein parcels comprise about eight acres and the Salvo/Vickers parcels, which wrap around the existing Aberdeen Hills community, comprise about 12 acres, with the property along Route 22 zoned commercial and parcels closer to Beards Hill Road zoned residential, according to tax maps.
"They would be expected to kick in at least something," McGrady said of the adjoining property owners. He noted that the owners of the Salvo/Vickers properties have had some utilities installed at a cost quoted to him at $800,000.
Council members did not comment one way or the other on the mayor's presentation; however, Michael Hiob, a former council member who spoke during an ensuing public comment portion of the meeting, said the extension is needed.
"I appreciate the effort being made on Middleton," said Hiob, who has been nominated by the mayor for a seat on the city Planning Commission. "Beards Hill and Route 22 is the worst intersection in Harford County."