The "Road to Nowhere" will turn into the "Road to Pasadena" and it could happen soon -- a year earlier than state highway officials had predicted.
If the weather cooperates, the State Highway Administration could open the four-lane, 2.65-mile final leg of Route 10 -- from Route 100 south of Mountain Road to Ritchie Highway north of Pasadena Road -- by November.
The extension will give motorists a direct route from Ritchie Highway to the Baltimore Beltway, shaving time off commuters' drives and thinning traffic in one of the county's most congested areas.
Commuters who now enter Route 100 north of Jumpers Hole Road will save time and avoid Ritchie Highway bottlenecks by instead following the new stretch of Route 10 over a bridge crossing Route 100 east, then continuing on Route 10 north or merging onto Route 100 west.
Route 10 will give commuters a straight shot to the beltway.
A mild winter and good soil conditions allowed highway crews to build the road faster than anticipated, said Mike Ulrich, SHA traffic engineer.
The road had been scheduled to open by November 1991.
"It's been a construction person's dream," Ulrich said. "We've had excellent working conditions. And the job doesn't have a lot of structural work."
Highway officials are reviewing a subcontractor's plans for signs. The road could open by November with temporary signs and a temporary blacktop.
Crews must wait for moderate temperatures and dryer weather next spring to construct the final "popcorn" pavement, a porous surface that allows water to drain through the top layer.
Route 10 earned a reputation as the "Road to Nowhere" after officials built a spur in 1978 that, for more than a decade, ran from the beltway to Marley Creek. There, the road stopped and dumped traffic onto the jammed Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.
Highway officials later built a bridge over Marley Creek and a 4.6-mile link to Mountain Road and Route 100.
The road had been on the state's drawing board since 1956, when engineers planned the Arundel Expressway to run from the beltway to Annapolis. Ultimately, planners chose the new Interstate 97, along the Route 3-Route 178 corridor, as a more direct and less costly route to Annapolis.
Construction crews began clearing trees for the final, $14.4 million extension to Ritchie Highway in January.
State planners expect some 65,000 cars to travel the completed expressway daily.