New lanes of U.S. 29 to open next week

August 10, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

For motorists accustomed to squeezing between concrete barriers on U.S. 29 north of Route 108, the pinch may soon be over.

Although contract changes and wet weather have delayed the opening of the western terminus of Route 100 at U.S. 29, State Highway Administration engineers expect to open the new northbound lanes of U.S. 29 sometime next week, if dry weather holds up.

Instead of a squeeze between Jersey walls through the interchange construction area without shoulders, motorists will be treated to three lanes -- with shoulders -- in both directions on U.S. 29.

That will be accomplished by the opening of the relocated northbound lanes, which curve under the new overpasses of Route 100 and Route 103. For the past year, northbound and southbound vehicles have shared four makeshift lanes on the southbound side of U.S. 29, separated only by concrete walls.

The shifting should give motorists some breathing room about a week, until contractors begin pouring new concrete slabs on the southbound side. The work, expected to last about two weeks, will require non-rush-hour lane closures.

Last spring, highway contractors expected to finish the entire interchange, along with Route 100's connection to Route 104, in July. However, the weather and changing plans have delayed that date until mid-September at the earliest, said Douglas R. Rose, the SHA district engineer for Howard, Frederick and Carroll counties.

"We've had a bad winter, bad spring and repeated rains," Mr. Rose said. "We've had a lot of washouts in the last three weeks. Earth work, the kind of work we're doing right now . . . we get one day of rain, and it might take two days to dry."

work ends on the first section of Route 100, contractors will begin work to add an extra lane to each side of U.S. 29 from Route 175 to just north of Route 108, where the interchange project begins.

Although all of the county highways being built or improved are state highways, Howard County pays a substantial share to speed up the projects.

The 2-mile section of Route 100 from the interchange with U.S. 29 to Route 104 will be built with $3 million in county "forward-funding," which is expected to be paid back by the state.

Patrick McCuan, who is developing adjoining land, is paying another $3 million to pave a 1-mile section of Route 100 under an agreement that allows his property access to the road.

Mr. McCuan actually started building the $3 million section several years ago, but stopped in 1990 when it appeared the state's sections were being delayed indefinitely by a shortage in transportation funding.

Both the county- and McCuan-paid sections of Route 100 will connect the interchange with Route 104, just north of Route 108. The connection will allow motorists to bypass Route 108 between Route 104 and U.S. 29.

The last section of Route 100 in Howard County, from Route 104 to Interstate 95, is not expected to be completed until 2000. That section has been was plagued by battles over its potential impact on neighborhoods and protected wetlands.

After the final leg is completed, the highway will link Ellicott City with Pasadena in Anne Arundel County, as well as with the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Interstate 95 and a planned Maryland Rail Commuter station in Dorsey.

The segments from I-95 in Howard County to I-97 in Anne Arundel County are now under construction and expected to open in 1996.

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