Frederick County presented its transportation priorities to the Legislative Delegation.
Frederick, Md (KM) Three members of the Frederick County Legislative Delegation discussed transportation Thursday afternoon. Delegates Carol Krimm and Karen Lewis Young, and State Senator Ron Young held a transportation meeting at Winchester Hall.
Jim Gugel, the County Director of Planning, presented the County’s highway priorities for 2017 as approved last month by the Council. The number one project is construction funding for the widening of Route 15 from Interstate 70 to Route 26 from four to six lanes. It includes the addition of an auxiliary lane in each direction to connect the acceleration and deceleration lanes, and the replacement of the bridges over Route 40, Rosemont Avenue and Seventh Street.
An informational meeting on this project is scheduled for June 13th at Governor Thomas Johnson High School.
The second priority is securing project planning funding for widening Route 194 from Route 26 to Frederick Street.
And the third project concerns Route 85 between Spectrum Drive and Guilford Drive.. “This would be a reconstruction, widening project, that would add a median, take it out to likely a six-lane divided roadway section, along with various bicycle and pedestrian improvements, ” Gugel says.
During the meeting, Delegate Krimm asked about what can done about traffic along Route 26 in the Worman’s Mill area. Gugel said there are plans to construct an interchange at Route 26 and Monocacy Boulevard. “The expectation that will split of the traffic going in and out Worman’s Mill so that everyone doesn’t have to use 26 to get in and out of there,” he said. “I think the hope will be is that will kind of spread out that traffic in that area.”
Traffic engineer Ron Burns said an interchange will be costly. “We’re not going to have triple lefts. We’re getting to the point where the intersection is maxed out, and from a delay standpoint, that’s going to be the bottleneck. The only alternative is an interchange. But it’s not cheap,” he said.
There were also questions about transit. Senator Young wondered if the county is asking for the state to provide MARC service to Frederick on the weekends. “That will be a major support for people who fly into DC and can take the train up here on weekends,” he said. “It would really, greatly promote tourism both ways.”
Gugel responded by saying it has been a priority in the past. “We tried to be a little bit practical in what is going to likely on MARC,” he said. “Unfortunately, you have the 800 pound gorilla with CSX that can kind of control everything. So we’re just trying to focus on the more commuter service oriented pieces to it.”
CSX is a freight rail company which owns the tracks used by MARC.
On a related topic, Senator Young wanted to know if the county is still setting aside rights of way for a possible extension of Metro to Frederick. “I would like to see it in our plans. I doubt that if I’m going to live to see it built. But if we don’t reserve the rights of way, it’s never going to happen,” he said.
Gugel said rights of way have been identified in Frederick County. “I would comment that the technology that would be considered is either going to light rail or bus rapid transit. It will not be Metro. It will not be commuter rail,” he said.
He also said the county would like to see more details so it can better protect the rights of way for future transit options. “More than likely, the Monocacy Battlefield could end up also being a very significant barrier that might keep it from extending up into Frederick,.” Gugel said.
The highway projects and other transportation needs will be included in the state’s Consolidated Transportation Program for future projects.
By Kevin McManus