A key portion of a plan to give savings and loan depositors access to frozen funds received final approval from the Maryland General Assembly yesterday when the Senate overwhelmingly approved a measure to repay a $139 million transfer from the state highway trust fund.

The measure, previously passed by the House of Delegates and approved on a 37-to-7 Senate vote yesterday, goes to Gov. Harry Hughes for his signature.

The bill allows Hughes to proceed with a planned payment next month to depositors at Old Court Savings & Loan, one of three crippled thrifts where depositors have virtually no access to their money.

The measure requires state leaders to repay the $100 million Hughes is to borrow for the depositor plan from the $1.8 billion Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for road construction and improvement and other transportation costs. The bill also requires repayment of $39 million borrowed from the fund in previous years. Repayment must come in the next 40 months from corporate income tax revenues.

Some lawmakers, particularly those from Montgomery County, opposed the fund transfer when Hughes proposed it in January, saying it would jeopardize needed road projects. Yesterday, much of that opposition had evaportated, and debate was limited to a few minutes, when Majority Leader Clarence Blount (D-Baltimore) described passage as "absolutely necessary."