31 January 2007

Thinking Outside the Box, Carroll County Style

Over the past few days, I have had neither the clarity to write nor strength to type. However, I have had the ability to surf. In my virtual travels, I made my way to the Eldersburg Today blog. A recent post caught my eye, in that it references an article in the Carroll County section of the Baltimore Sun . The article, written by Laura McCandlish, details a proposal from Carroll County Commissioner Michael D. Zimmer:
"Carroll County's newest commissioner proposed an elaborate and expensive project yesterday to bring a federal highway to the rural area by extending U.S. 29 from Howard County and building an artery that would bisect Carroll and include bypasses of Westminster and Taneytown."
"Though Zimmer's new plan would develop U.S. 29 along existing roads, outfitting those routes for high-volume traffic and building bypasses could easily cost billions of dollars, according to state highway engineer David Coyne."

What I get from the article is that if roads are renamed as Route 29, a U.S. highway, federal funds for expansion would be somehow easier to obtain (quick note, check the graphic on the right hand side of the page of the Baltimore Sun article). The following passage from the story is telling:
"The federal government has a wonderful thing called 'earmarking' on transportation bills," Steven D. Powell, the commissioners' chief of staff, said yesterday. "This has incredible potential to open up economic development for us."

Now, I am not sure if this is the best idea with the current mood in Washington, but more to the point, does anyone think this is a good idea?


Anonymous said...

This would be a commuter highway costing untold billions. Maybe the proposal, instead of being named U.S. 29 Extension, should be called U.$. 50,000,000,000.

And more traffic, more pollution, and more sprawl in Carroll County and beyond. Hardly a smart-growth-inducing expenditure. It was I-795, after all, that created much of the commuter issue up there in the first place, wasn't it? Instead, extend 795 just another few miles and they'll have an Interstate highway for far less money.

If Carroll County truly wants better transportation, another highway for cars isn't the best they could get.

Eldersburg1976 said...

If Carroll County truly wants better transportation, another highway for cars isn't the best they could get.

Please clarify what this better transportation system would entail? Until the Eldersburg Metro Station comes into existence, better (smarter) highways can help. Right now, the commute from Eldersburg to Columbia has two options:

1. A two-lane highway (Route 32) that is vastly undersized for it’s traffic load
2. The back country route that travels on a number of rural and residential roads.

In an ideal world, I’d like to travel on the highway (route 32) but it would add at least 20 minutes to my commute due to traffic.

Anonymous said...

That Eldersburg Metro spur you're waiting for won't come to be. Outlying areas will be instead be served by a far more efficient, far faster state-of-the-art transit system.

In the meantime, we're finding out that highways aren't all that smart. Spending billions to widen these roads will create other far more serious costs to those living in an area more than half a mile wide and 50 miles long.

Thankfully, modern transit systems offer relief to families living in these wide zones near highways.

Eldersburg1976 said...

anon 11/11/07

As I'll be the first in line to jump on the "modern transit system" quoted in your comment/link... in todays world (the next 20-30 years), we must upgrade our existing transportation system.

technology and the public will are slowly going in the right direction but we can not put our heads in the sand and refuse to upgrade our current transportation system. It is the lifeblood of our economy and personal lives. we must "smartly" upgrade vital areas and that includes highways.