For a highway project that has been on and off the books for more than three decades, Route 100 has been really moving this week.
Tomorrow, the State Highway Administration plans to announce its choice of alignments between routes 104 and 103. On Monday, work began on a key two-lane, 3,700-foot section east of Long Gate Parkway.
"I'm very pleased that, that is being started now, so that it will be completed when the [U.S. 29] intersection is completed about a year from now. It is a very needed section," County Executive Charles I. Ecker said of the new construction.
Tomorrow's announcement will surprise few who have followed the two years of alignment debate.
State Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff sent a letter yesterday informing county officials that he had chosen the "Lazy S," an alignment that runs between the southern edge of the Deep Run stream's wetlands and the condominiums of the Village of Montgomery Run.
Local elected officials, including Mr. Ecker, County Council members and state legislators, linked their July 22 endorsement of the Lazy S option to assurances from the highway administration that condominium residents near the highway be protected from noise, or compensated for their trouble. Another condition was that owners of the neighboring R. Lee Curtis farm be fairly paid for their land.
Mr. Ecker said that after talking to Mr. Kassoff, he believed those conditions would be met. They would include providing sound barriers next to the nearest condominium building and a voluntary buyout program for upper-floor owners.
The alignment decision allowed engineers to say with some confidence that construction on all six lanes of the highway from Route 104 to Interstate 95 will begin in fiscal 1997, which begins in July 1996.
To the motorist looking for a quick way to get from Ellicott City to Pasadena in Anne Arundel County, that means the entire 20-mile divided highway is expected to be completed by about 2000.
Highway engineers expect the Anne Arundel portions of the highway now under construction, connecting I-95 to I-97, to be completed in about two years.
The highway should speed motorists from Ellicott City and northern Columbia to Baltimore and Washington via I-95, to Annapolis via I-97, and to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
The $2.1 million project that began Monday will connect the U.S. 29 interchange project, which began in September 1991, with a nearly completed section being built by developer Patrick McCuan.
All three projects are expected to be completed late next spring to provide a two-lane link from U.S. 29 to Route 104, north of Route 108.
The road will also provide access to Mr. McCuan's planned apartment complex north of Howard High School.
Although the state is building the middle segment, the county is paying the $2.1 million cost up front, and the state has agreed to reimburse the county when the entire highway opens, said James M. Irvin, county public works director.