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Hancock expects road project in 2004

January 15, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Hancock's industrial area may get a boost this year with a planned $2 million road construction project aimed at improving economic development in that part of the county.

The Washington County project set to begin this year involves the construction of a road that will connect from Md. 144 to Ford Drive, which is just outside the town's boundaries.

Washington County Public Works Director Gary Rohrer said the project will be paid for with federal, state and local dollars. Construction is to begin sometime after winter, he said.

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Rohrer said the connector road will make it easier and safer for tractor-trailers to get to Rayloc, a company that remanufactures automotive parts. The company is on Rayloc Drive, near Ford Drive.

Tractor-trailer rigs getting off Interstate 70 now must get to Rayloc by maneuvering along town roads, including Main Street and a steep turn onto Tollgate Ridge.

"I don't even know what angle that is," said Tim Troxell, director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission (EDC).

He said the EDC has been working to make the connector road a reality for more than five years.

Troxell said sometimes trucks have taken out electric poles while making the turn, leaving residents and businesses without power.

Rohrer said the county was approached by Rayloc and town officials to improve the route to Rayloc.

"It'll be a much safer environment," Hancock Town Manager Larry Logan said.

Rayloc, which employs about 450 people, referred all questions about the connector road to Troxell.

Troxell said the project is an economic development tool to help keep a large employer satisfied with the county.

"The last thing we wanted was a major employer not being able to access their facility appropriately," Troxell said. "We're looking at it to basically keep a major employer in the area."

Troxell said Rayloc moved to the Hancock site in the '70s and only a few tractor-trailers a day made the trip. But the company has since grown, and more trucks are making daily trips to the facility, he said.

Rohrer said the connector road also might help with future economic development near Rayloc.

Kirkwood Park


Also this year, the Hancock Town Council is hoping Washington County will take over the town's approximately 150-acre Kirkwood Park.

Council members have said at meetings that the town can't afford to pay for improvements to the park but that maybe the county could.

Washington County Director of Parks Jim Sterling said he's in the process of gathering more information about a possible county takeover, including the costs related to the takeover.

"It's a nice park. It's in a nice location. It has a lot of possibility," Sterling said.

Sterling said if talks about a takeover progress, the town and county would have to hold public hearings so residents have the opportunity to comment.

In addition, Hancock resident Sinclair Hamilton plans to renovate the deteriorating Taney House, which was built in the 1800s. The building, across from the C&O Canal, was last used in the 1970s.

Logan said the Town Council is considering whether to sell the property to Hamilton.

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