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Roads to the new hospital and to the city's prosperity

December 19, 2007|By BOB MAGINNIS

Odds and ends from a columnist's notebook:

· After seeing the sign that appears on the left on Hagerstown's Robinwood Drive for several weeks, I decided to verify whether it was accurate.

In other words, has the Washington County government really decided where, at some future time, Robinwood Drive will connect with Eastern Boulevard?

Yes, it has, but don't expect it to happen in the next few months.

Recently I spoke to Terry McGee, Washington County's chief engineer, who said that the link from Eastern Boulevard will come to Robinwood Drive along Varsity Lane, where Manny Shaool is building an office building.

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"We're relying on the developers in that region to fund some of it, if not all," McGee said.

McGee said he felt the entry point to the access road would come from Professional Court, although McGee said that "there has not been any final alignment" set at this point.

The significance of this roadway is that it would provide a second entrance to the new Washington County Hospital, which recently received the court's OK to build near Robinwood Medical Center.

Ambulance traffic from the North End of Hagerstown could come down Md. 64, then onto Eastern Boulevard and to the hospital via the access road.

The tough part of this access road will be bridging Antietam Creek, which will likely add millions to the project.

What isn't in debate is that within two years, the new hospital will be open and traffic ? ambulances and otherwise ? will be headed there. Having more ways to get there seems to make sense, from a traffic standpoint and from the perspective of public safety. Let's see if we can get this done without wrangling about it for as long as local officials have about the Robinwood Drive Bypass.

· Speaking about that proposed bypass, in my travels I have noticed that there are some homes for sale on the Hagerstown side of Robinwood Drive.

Now is the time for the county government to buy those homes. When the county has purchased all but a few of the properties, it could then negotiate with the few remaining property owners to buy their houses. Then Robinwood Drive could be widened.

The need will be there in the future, because at this point what happens is that students from Pennsylvania come down Md. 60 (Leitersburg Pike), then turn onto Md. 62 (Little Antietam Road) which deadends at Md. 64 (Jefferson Boulevard.)

Then it's a short ride to Robinwood Drive. I'm not advocating turning Robinwood Drive into a speedway, but unless the growth of the college is going to be restricted to Maryland residents, something has got to give.

· Kudos to Hagerstown Councilman Lew Metzner for scolding the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly for not intervening in the ongoing revenue dispute between the city and county governments.

The delegation ought to require the county commissioners to read "Cities Without Suburbs," by David Rusk.

Using lots of research, Rusk makes a persuasive case that if a city in poverty is surrounded by a more affluent suburb, both will be hurt by the disparity in incomes.

So far, the county commissioners have either not grasped this point ? or have chosen to ignore it.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of the Herald-Mail newspapers.

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