Letter to the Editor

April 17, 2010

Bypass is not needed in Washington County

To the editor:

On April 1, about 70 very upset people attended a meeting sponsored by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) concerning future regional road improvements.

Apparently, it was not intended to discuss a proposal to study a northeast bypass around Hagerstown connecting Interstates 70 and 81. However, the attending people insisted on discussing the bypass and almost all were against it. This bypass, in effect, could be the beginning of a grandiose beltway around Hagerstown.

This study would propose the best way to tear up eastern Washington County for the primary benefit of developers and Pennsylvania commuters and to take off about 10 minutes of driving time for through traffic. It would not really reduce present or future congestion on I-70, which is primarily an east-west route, or I-81, which is primarily a north-south route. After the meeting, the consultants privately admitted the proposed bypass would only increase congestion in the long run.


A one- or two-day public notice was given in the paper about the three upcoming meetings. Almost all of the people attending the Washington County meeting were against even studying the proposed bypass because it would be the first step to ramming it down the throats of Washington County inhabitants. The proposed "study," as shown, would go through most of the best remaining "open space" in northeastern Washington County unless it would start to take people's homes.

The proposed "study" completely ignores the fact that this is the third or fourth time that such a proposal has been floated and rejected here in the last 40 years. We don't want or need this type of bypass. The last attempt at a bypass resulted in a very successful compromise called Eastern Boulevard, which diverts much of the north-south traffic on the eastern side around downtown. I suggest that compromise be extended by taking Eastern Boulevard to the airport, not just to Leitersburg Pike as now planned.

We already have three major north-south routes in our county, which are proposed for upgrading (Md. 66, Robinwood Drive and Eastern Boulevard) at a much smaller cost both in money and disruption than any northeast bypass.

The proposed northeast bypass study is a "stealth" proposal, which can be self-fulfilling if not stopped in the "study" phase. If the study becomes reality, the next logical step would be a northwest bypass through the Maugansville area, and next, a southeast bypass through the Boonsboro area, etc.

Another point to consider is the proposed northeast bypass will have an interchange quite close to the trout hatchery and would probably have the effect of "fouling" Beaver Creek and the hatchery as far as being a prime trout habitat.

We should not waste scarce money on this study. The money for the bypass study would better be spent on projects to benefit local roads or relieve congestion on I-70 and I-81. At least the land rights are already owned.

Even the majority of our elected county commissioners are against the study as well as the mayor of Hagerstown. Why is the MPO insisting on taking this study forward?

Thomas Scrivener

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