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Wider street, fewer houses

Eight homes and one business may give way to widen Maugans Avenue

Eight homes and one business may give way to widen Maugans Avenue

July 31, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County might have to purchase up to eight homes and one commercial property along Maugans Avenue in preparation for a multi-million dollar project to widen a stretch of the road to five lanes, the county's real property administrator, Dean Lowry, said during the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday meeting.

The commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday to buy one of the properties, the vacant Hatfield house at 18620 Maugans Ave., for $115,000. The 50-year-old brick rancher is on .439 of an acre, Lowry said.

A second residential property purchased is on the corner of Maugans and Pennsylvania avenues, he said.

The county's Capital Improvement Program lists the project's total cost at about $5.5 million. The first phase of construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2004, county Chief Engineer Terry McGee said after the meeting.

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The first phase will add two lanes in both directions and a center turn lane to the section of Maugans Avenue that runs from Pennsylvania Avenue to Interstate 81. The estimated cost of that part of the project is $3.8 million, according to the Capital Improvement Program.

The second phase would widen Maugans Avenue to three lanes from Interstate 81 to Maugansville Road and would cost about $1.7 million, the program states. Construction on the second phase would begin in 2008 if approved.

Lowry and McGee said the widening is necessary to relieve traffic congestion on the road.

"It's a mess," McGee said. "It's probably one of the most congested areas that we have."

McGee said Maugans Avenue is used as the main road to and from I-81 because it's closer to more homes and businesses than the Showalter Road exit.

Lowry said that with residential growth expected for the North End of Hagerstown and near Hagerstown Regional Airport, traffic congestion on Maugans Avenue will get worse without the widening.

He said traffic is usually tied up in the morning and from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Lowry told the commissioners he thinks the homes that the county purchases should be torn down and the land resold once the project is completed.

If the houses are left standing, he said they would be just feet from the widened Maugans Avenue.

"It's going to bring the road so close to the house that it will not be feasible," he said.

Lowry said new homes could be built on the realigned land.

The commissioners requested a report on the benefits of renting the Hatfield home or demolishing it.

County Commissioner Bert Iseminger said the Maugans Avenue traffic situation is a result of approving homes without looking ahead.

"This is a real good example of where subdivisions were approved without thinking what the future was going to bring," he said.

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