Meeting Shows Not All Agree that South County’s Route 2 Needs Widening
The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) meeting for proposed changes to Route 2 was held Thursday in a small meeting room at the Anne Arundel County Public Libraryin Deale. A count of the sign-in sheets showed 83 people in attendance.
One of the staffers of State Highway said that they had never had so many attendees at one of these meetings. SHA contacted about 1,000 people living in the affected area. Some attendees didn’t understand why there were no road signs posted along Route 2 to announce the meeting.
It seemed to me that most people who attended learned of the meeting through the efforts of the Harwood Civic Association and Lothian Civic Associations postcard mailings to households in their respective areas, and through publicity generated from other civic groups including the Chamber of Commerce.
Some people at the meeting commented that it was the responsibility of SHA to inform everyone affected, and it should not have been left up to private groups or individuals to inform residents of the meeting.
The room was set up with individual maps and computer graphic displays of each proposed left turn lane with an SHA staff member there to explain each proposed change. There were large and changing groups at each display. Residents spoke with staff members as individuals, one-on-one. Those attending the meeting seemed very involved and interested in each map.
Basically it was a meeting of breakout groups. I heard comments that it was not a “meeting.” People seemed disgruntled that they could not ask questions and get answers as an audience. There was no chance for real discussion as a group.
One local resident brought his own maps showing the planned changes to Route 2. At the meeting, I heard that at least one resident could lose his house as part of the proposed changes.
I did complain about the breakout arrangement both at a direct meeting with SHA and at the library with SHA staff. I got the same answer each time from Kimberly M. Tran who told me that SHA wanted to avoid a larger meeting with everyone because the attendees could “become hostile.”
A number of attendees complained about the meeting not being a “real meeting.”
It seemed that most were opposed to plans for several of the left turn lanes. One attendee suggested to SHA/Tran that Route 2 needed two traffic circles and not several long left turn lanes. The attendee also asked how much the circles would cost and Tran her told that they would each cost $2 million dollars. She then asked how much the left turn lanes would cost and the answer was $1 million dollars each. The woman commented that two circles would cost the same or less than four left turn lanes.
SHA had comment cards available for those who wanted to make comments, many filled them out.
Local politicians also came out including Del. Bob Costa, County Councilman Jerry Walker and a representative of state Sen. Ed Reilly.