Perryville seeks state help for Route 222
— Perryville officials want Cecil County residents to see the same toll discount at the Tydings Bridge as the one afforded for the Hatem Bridge during rush hour, according to a letter sent from town hall to the head of the Maryland Department of Transportation.
The May 31 letter – addressed to Pete K. Rahn, secretary of the agency – is an attempt by Perryville’s mayor and commissioners to establish needs left off Cecil County’s transportation priority list. Ideally, the discount will help avoid traffic backups along Route 222 and Route 40. A study to determine lost revenue may be needed, the letter added.
“The toll creates an economic barrier, effectively separating Perryville and all of Cecil County from the rest of Maryland,” the letter reads. “The economic impact is inordinately large to Perryville as the first town that drivers enter after the toll. This is evidenced by higher unemployment rates in Perryville relative to the rest of Cecil County as well as relative to the State of Maryland as a whole.”
While thanking the state
for lowering the rate from $8 to $6 last year, town officials claim allowing for rush hour access to the Tydings would also have economic development benefits.
“We believe this will provide some measure of economic relief to residents and small businesses in Perryville...ultimately allowing new businesses to locate along MD 222 near Hollywood Casino,” according to the letter.
John Sales, spokesman for the secretary, said the agency does not comment on such letters and did not say if Rahn had responded.
Also on the list: upgrades to the Route 222 interchange to Interstate 95. State officials have closed the door on any development in the area until the bridge is widened – a project the state expects Perryville and the county to contribute.
Cecil County took that off its priority list in favor of smaller projects more likely to be considered. However, Perryville points to “the recession and recent downturn in our economy (that) has allowed conditions to remain stagnant,” adding that by restricting the capacity of Route 222 it creates “a deterrent to economic development in the area by all surrounding municipalities and Cecil County.”
“Upgrading the bridge at this key interchange is crucial to our town to develop projects such as the proposed commercial entertainment mixed use development where Hollywood Casino is located,” the letter continued.
The letter to Rahn also pointed out that the almost 50-year-old bridge is heavily traveled: “Therefore, it is vitally important that traffic access is maintained when the bridge is replaced.”
The letter which was signed by Mayor Jim Eberhardt, also reiterates the town’s longstanding request for sidewalks along Route 222 from Clayton Street to St. Mark’s Church Road. Another wish list item was increased MARC commuter service to Perryville with mid-day and weekend train stops.
“There is a big push to extend MARC service to Delaware, which is a worthy goal,” the letter reads. However, as evidenced by increased ridership, the town described its link in the service as “critical access to jobs, increased educational (and) work opportunities, and tourism-related activities in our region.”
Lastly, the board wants the state to replace the bridge on Ikea Road, but ensure access to the town’s park and wastewater plant as well as the truck entrance to the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center at Perry Point and IKEA during construction.
Traffic heads north on Route 222 from the Hatem Bridge toll booth and the red light at the intersection of Route 40 and Route 222 in Perryville. Town officials want state transportation officials to give locals a discount at the Interstate 95 toll during rush hour.