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Aberdeen officials say they can't do anything about plan to raze houses

The 16 homes marked "R" are scheduled to be razed as part of State Highway Administration's project to widen Route 22 in Aberdeen.
The 16 homes marked "R" are scheduled to be razed as part of State Highway Administration's project to widen Route 22 in Aberdeen. (PHOTO BY BRYNA ZUMER | AEGIS STAFF)

The real impact on Aberdeen from a major Route 22 widening project, announced last week at a public meeting, remains to be seen.

This week, several city officials had muted reactions to a project they see as being completely out of their hands.

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The Maryland State Highway Administration is planning to widen parts of Route 22 between I-95 and Route 40. Intersection improvements are planned at Old Post, Paradise and Beards Hill Roads.

The major impact on homeowners will be the razing of 16 houses on Route 22 near the Paradise Road intersection. State officials said they expect to relocate those property owners.

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About 59 more property owners also could have parts of their property taken for rights-of-way.

Mayor Mike Bennett and City Manager Doug Miller were both out of town at the Maryland Municipal League convention, when the public meeting on the project was held at Aberdeen High School June 27.

Bennett said Tuesday the city has simply no control over the project.

He said he was aware the road was planned to be widened but did not know the details.

"I don't know what to tell you; I don't know what you want to hear," Bennett said. "This was all planned a long time ago."

The project is being completely handled by the state, he noted.

"I don't know how much we have to say [about] what's going to happen in the state right-of-way," Bennett said. "It's really not our issue."

Other than that, Bennett said he did not have much of a response to the project.

"I really haven't got any feelings for it. It hasn't been on my radar," he said. "If there's anything we can do, then we will look at that."

"I mean, they might come up with a very fair market price for houses and folks might be OK with that," Bennett added.

City Manager Doug Miller likewise did not respond to a request for any reaction, other than to say he just recently learned of the plan.

"The first I personally saw the plans for which houses would be purchased was the day after the hearing at [Aberdeen High School]," Miller wrote in an e-mail.

Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young attended the June 27 meeting, and said she feels sorry for the people affected.

Young, who lives on Doris Circle, is close to the affected intersections.

"I feel very sorry for the folks involved, because I am thinking a lot of them have been there a long time," Young said. "It will be quite an adjustment for them."

She said she did not know what the families on Paradise will decide to do.

"I certainly wish them well," she said. "I just want the families to be treated fairly."

Young said she was pleased the public meeting gave residents a first-hand view of the project, as the city has been getting a lot of questions about it.

She also wished the transportation project would focus more on more than just widening roads.

"I am torn by it because I think, as a society, we should be using more mass transit," Young said. "I see a great opportunity here for more vanpooling, carpooling. I see an opportunity for more shuttle service available on the post itself, so people can get where they need to be in a timely fashion."

"I do hope there is a role in this for Harford County again for the buses and more mass transit, and to have locations where people can park their cars and be able to get on a bus," she said.

The State Highway Administration only handles roadwork and is not in charge of any other forms of transportation.

Young said the Route 22 construction work could require some patience in the short-term.

"It will be a struggle for a while, with construction going on," she said. "I think we are going to have a few years where people are going to be saying, what are we doing."

The BRAC-related intersection improvement project is estimated to cost $7 million to $10 million per intersection, and will add a third through-lane to both sides of Route 22 and a left-turn lane from Route 22 onto Beards Hill Road. It will also widen parts of Beards Hill, Paradise and Old Post roads.

A noise-barrier wall is also proposed just east of the Paradise Road intersection.

The project has not been funded yet and is set to start construction in the spring of 2015, to be open for traffic by spring of 2017.

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