by Geoff Fox
Town officials are in support of an interchange on I-70 in Bethel Township in Fulton County that would serve the area near the newly annexed 136.9 acres of land on Warfordsburg Road, as well as LanCo Pennland and Mellott’s in Fulton County.
Officials held a public hearing prior to the virtual December town meeting in regards to the annexation, however no citizens opened their microphone to voice concerns. They would unanimously approve the annexation later in the meeting.
The annexation will become official on January 23, 2021, or 45 days after the December 9 passage.
Town Manager Joe Gilbert said he had visited with Bethel Township supervisors last Monday and he said they were passing a similar resolution as to the one presented and passed during the Hancock meeting.
“This is not a town project,” Gilbert said. “We can’t go out there and build an interchange to an interstate highway.”
The project has been added to the town’s transportation priority list and brought to the attention Delegate Mike McKay and Senator George Edwards.
The plan is to build momentum behind the project starting with both town and township working through their respective counties, then the respective state’s department of transportation, and then to the federal highway administration.
The project won’t happen overnight and could take years, Gilbert said.
Having the interchange could benefit both Washington and Fulton County in that it would help bring jobs to both counties and businesses there.
Gilbert said it would be one of those things that would create capital investment of jobs in Hancock.
The interchange would not only benefit the cheese factory, HB Mellott, and any future business in the business park, it would also get the heavy vehicle traffic off the streets of Hancock if they need to access those businesses.
This is why having engineers include the annexed area included in the scope of work for the freshwater and wastewater projects the town is facing.
Mayor Ralph Salvagno said it’s a “really good” project because it’s the classic multi-jurisdictional benefit.
“It takes a little bit more work to get everybody on the same page and to recognize there’s some benefits to everyone,” he said.
The project itself is “way down the road,” Salvagno said, but it makes the parcel of land attractive for future occupants of the industrial park.
There is also big potential to those folks in Bethel Township as well.
Robert Van Rens, of NVR Associates, who works for the town in Annapolis, said he has reached out to Congressman David Trone and Senators Ben Carden and Chris Van Hollen about the interchange to make them aware it’s an important project to the Hancock area.
“Since Congressman Trone and Senator Van Hollen are both on their respective appropriations committees, they’re going to be key to that process happening,” he said.