A $400,000 project to improve Route 32 at four Sykesville intersections will begin in about two weeks.
"The only thing motorists will see this fall are shoulder improvements," said Rick Lindsay, assistant district engineer for the State Highway Administration.
The shoulder work prepares the way for the widening of the two-lane highway, which the highway administration has scheduled for completion this spring, he said.
"The construction season is winding down, and cooler morning temperatures don't allow us to lay the surface courses in thin layers," he said.
The bolstered shoulders will make Route 32, which the state calls the Sykesville bypass, a four-lane road from Route 851, south of the Patapsco River, possibly as far north as the Obrecht Road extension, which the county plans to construct late next year.
The Obrecht Road plans may be put on hold, if the town decides to widen Third Avenue and extend it to Route 32.
"The question of Obrecht Road and what happens with Third Avenue could change the whole scenario for Route 32," said James L. Schumacher, Sykesville town manager.
The highway administration is proceeding with the improvements at least as far north as Cooper Drive.
Crews will reconstruct existing shoulders to allow turn lanes at the four Route 32 intersections with College Avenue, Sandosky Road, Cooper Drive and Springfield Avenue.
Doug Rose, highway district engineer, calls the project "capacity improvement to the Sykesville bypass."
Route 32 serves as the main exit for hundreds of town residents who commute to Route 26 and Interstate 70 daily.
Mr. Lindsay said crews will start about Nov. 7 at the southern end of the bypass near the Howard County line.
"The weather will determine how far north we get," he said.
Deep patching now will reduce the workload in the spring.
Crews will mill down shoulders by nine inches and replace the tar and chip with "a deep-strength bituminous concrete base," Mr. Lindsay said.