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SHA says roads can be planned
 even without funding

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(4/3) Though the Frederick County Commissioners believe unfunded road projects don’t belong on planning documents for future road improvements, the Maryland State Highway Administration doesn’t agree with them.

“If everyone adopted a mindset of ‘If it’s not funded, it’s not on a planning document,’ we wouldn’t have a Highway Needs Inventory,” said Dave Coyne, district engineer with the SHA. He spoke to members of Thurmont’s Economic Development Commission on March 19.

The Highway Needs Inventory is the state’s long-range unfunded road improvement plan. It contains many projects for Frederick County that have no funding but are needed or will be needed.

“We still need to look forward and decide where the needs will be,” Coyne said.

This is the opposite of the position the county commissioners have taken, deciding to remove anything from the Thurmont Regional Plan that isn’t funded, including an Emmitsburg bypass and a Thurmont Industrial Parkway.

However, gaining state funding for a project requires that it be on the county’s priority list.

“It starts with your elected officials to make it a priority to make it a major project,” Coyne said.

He pointed out that even if the county places a project on its priority list, it isn’t guaranteed funding.

“The priority list always far exceeds the money available,” Coyne said.

One of the reasons for this funding disparity is that the state is concentrating more money on preserving its existing road infrastructure rather than building new roads.
The projects that do get funding are put on the Consolidated Transportation Plan, a six-year capital plan that can be found on the Internet at www.marylandroads.com.

John Concannon with SHA also noted that U.S. Route 15 hadn’t been studied north of Biggs Ford Road for additional interchanges. Because of that, there are no plans presently to close the at-grade access points on the highway.

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