State and county officials appeared ready last night to proceed with plans for construction of an interchange at Route 175 and Snowden River Parkway, as no significant opposition was voiced at the only public meeting scheduled to be held on the project.
The $8 million partial-cloverleaf interchange -- the proposal preferred by the state and county -- was chosen unanimously by residents instead of a more modest plan to increase the number of lanes on the parkway.
The interchange would allow traffic on Route 175 to cross Snowden River Parkway without stopping, alleviating congestion at one of Howard County's busiest intersections.
Fewer than 25 people filtered through the three-hour public information workshop at Hammond High School, and the handful present at any one time was outnumbered by the more than a dozen state and county representatives.
"There was really no opposition," said Norie Calvert, the state project engineer overseeing the work. "Based upon this meeting, and assuming that the funding remains constant, it looks like we will proceed with the interchange option."
Three proposals were presented during last night's informal meeting: Do nothing, add lanes to the parkway or construct the interchange.
But neither state and county officials nor area residents appeared to be seriously considering the first two options because of the congestion already occurring at the intersection.
The development of Snowden Square -- a 40-acre retail and restaurant center that includes a number of high-volume stores -- has dramatically increased traffic at the intersection, and the completion of the Route 100-Snowden River Parkway interchange in 1999 is expected to worsen the problem.
State traffic planners say that the Route 175 interchange would be the only way to prevent gridlock, based on traffic projections.
The county already has committed to paying for the $8 million interchange with money from its excise tax on development, bonds and contributions from developers, said Elizabeth Calia, the county's representative on the project's design team.
The only concern about the interchange has been about its impact on nearby intersections. The Long Reach Village Board has written a letter questioning its effect on safety at the intersection of Route 175 and Route 108.
Ms. Calia said the county likely will look at the interchange's impact on the entire Route 175 corridor west of Interstate 95.
The state plans to make its decision by the beginning of next year. Construction would begin in spring 1997 and be completed by fall 1999, Ms. Calvert said.