County officials plead for interchange project

November 14, 1996



Staff Writer

Washington County officials complained to state transportation officials Thursday about the lack of funding to improve the congested Interstate 81 and Halfway Boulevard interchange while work has been expedited on an interchange elsewhere for Allegheny Power.

"I don't know of any project in this county that has as high a priority," county Public Works Director Gary Rohrer said of the Halfway Boulevard interchange.

The county has been seeking funds for the $9 million project for about seven years, Rohrer told Maryland Transportation Deputy Secretary Thomas L. Osborne, State Highway Administrator Parker Williams and other officials.


He called his remarks "a plea for help."

While "major industry" is moving into the Hopewell Road area and using the Halfway Boulevard interchange, another highway interchange project at Interstate 70 and Downsville Pike, which will serve Allegheny Power, has received construction funding, Rohrer said.

"There's nothing at Allegheny Power except their corporate offices," he said.

Gov. Parris Glendening expedited work on the Downsville Pike interchange, Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, said.

The state has allotted $13.7 million for construction on the Downsville Pike interchange, expected to be finished by the fall of 1999, state officials said.

With all the development planned for Hopewell Road, "gridlock is our real concern" at the Halfway Boulevard interchange, Rohrer said.

Williams said that a $1.4 million engineering study on the Halfway Boulevard interchange is about 30 percent done.

So far, the county has borne all the costs of improvements in the Hopewell Road area, Rohrer said.

"Further expenses will have to be shared with the developers," County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop said.

The county is working on a formula to charge them, he said.

Osborne said the state is more likely to place emphasis on a project that is jointly funded by the county and developers because such partnerships save the state money.

The transportation officials were in Washington County to present the state's $4.8 billion draft transportation plan for the next six years. They visit all 23 counties and Baltimore City every fall seeking comment on the draft plan and make a report to the General Assembly in January.

In Washington County, the plan includes:

n more than $4.1 million in safety and resurfacing projects to portions of Md. 34, Md. 494 and Interstates 70 and 81.

n about $4.7 million to rehabilitate the Md. 34 bridge over the Potomac River and the Interstate 70 bridge over Hopewell Road.

The state officials presented a replica of a check to Washington County for $496,000, the local portion of highway user revenues.

It was not clear when the funds would actually be available.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the county will use the money for road and bridge construction and maintenance.

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