To the relief of traffic-jammed South County residents, state highway officials are planning the expansion of a mile-long section of Route 2 just south of the South River bridge.
After being taken off the books a decade ago, the project was reinstated by the Department of Transportation last week. Using revenue from a recent 5-cent increase in the fuel tax, highway officials set aside $850,000 to plan the expansion from Virginia Avenue to Route 214.
This is "big news" to South County residents sick of fighting their way through traffic on that stretch of Route 2, said Geoff Carroll, chairman of the Edgewater Master Plan Commission, an umbrella group of 21 community and property associations.
"We're very pleased that now we're getting some attention to a project that's already long overdue," Carroll said.
For months, South County community leaders have been
pushing county and state officials to widen the existing two-lane road.
Traffic congestion on Route 2 in Edgewater, already at "critical levels," will become "extremely serious and hazardous" as major building projects proceed during the next five years, senior county transportation planner Roland Davis wrote in a memo last fall.
The Friendswood Development Co. of Houston, Texas, is
building a 700- to 900-home planned community, South River Colony, near the intersection of routes 2 and 214. The project includes a shopping center, office complex, 18-hole golf course and country club.
To comply with county adequate facilities laws, Friendswood will pay to upgrade that intersection and the intersection of Route 2 and Mayo Road. The developer also will widen Route 2 from Pike's Ridge Road to Route 214, and Route 214 east to Muddy Creek Road.
The improvements will cost the company about $10 million, said Randy Raudabaugh, Friendswood's Maryland manager.
It could take up to five years to make the upgrades, he said -- about the same amount of time the state estimates it will take to make its improvements.
Until last week, residents feared that nothing would be done to widen the portions of Route 2 for which the developer is not responsible.
"The assumption has always been that a developer would have the money and fix [all] the roads," Raudabaugh said.
Keith Bounds, the State Highway Administration's regional planner for Anne Arundel and Southern Maryland, said officials will study making Route 2 a four-lane divided highway from Virginia Avenue to Route 214. The SHA also is considering interim measures to relieve congestion, he said.
The project could cost up to $8 million, Davis said. Federal aid would cover 75 percent of the cost.