Saving about 57 acres of trees and wetlands while expanding U.S. 50 between Parole and Bowie will cost the state and federal governments about $6 million.
State Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff said hisagency is redesigning the expanded road, which includes additional lanes and new interchanges at Routes 3 and 424, to protect the trees and wetlands along the shoulders.
The new design will replace the 30-foot-wide shoulders -- a safety feature required by the Federal Highway Administration on interstate roads -- on either side of the highway with a narrower shoulder andguard rails or jersey barriers, Kassoff said.
The wide shoulders would have required the state to clear 50 acres of woodland and fill in 7 acres of wetlands along the seven-mile, $100 million highway project, Kassoff said.
The redesign will cost an additional $6 million, or $100,000 per acre, Kassoff said.
But the Federal Highway Administration, which relaxed its safety standards to save the trees, will finance about 90 percent of the interstate project, he added.
Because U.S. 50, which Kassoff describes as a "grand boulevard," connects the state capital to the national capital, he said SHA officials have paid it special attention.
"That's not a totally outlandish amount of money when you think about what would be lost," Kassoff said. "There's no way to build a highway without taking some trees down, but we're trying to keep it to a minimum."