The Howard County Council took a step last night to ease traffic headaches at Snowden River Parkway and Route 175, approving a contract that will add a lane each to northbound and southbound Snowden River Parkway and to eastbound Route 175 between Snowden River Parkway and Dobbin Road.
But a task force studying traffic problems in the area is still two months from deciding what kind of long-term solution it will recommend for the intersection.
"We are trying to have an open mind," said Henry Dagenais, a task force member representing the Village of Long Reach. "I feel that we are making progress in an open discussion with the county and the state -- which are doing a good job explaining all of our options and are tuned to the feelings of the residents."
The need for additional lanes was spawned by the congestion at the intersection of Snowden River Parkway and Route 175. That traffic is expected to increase with the opening of the Columbia Crossing retail complex, north of Route 175, between Snowden River Parkway and Dobbin Road. "Even without Columbia Crossing, this would be a very beneficial and needed project," said Ron Lepson, chief of the Howard County Bureau of Engineering. "The additional lanes will alleviate congestion along 175."
The lanes approved by the County Council last night are viewed as the first phase in the construction of a permanent interchange. Construction of the lanes, to be paid for by the county and built by the Rouse Co.'s Howard Research and Development subsidiary, should be completed by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, task force members Wednesday night opened discussion on long-term options for the intersection.
Five interchange options are under consideration. The task force has thus far addressed two: the partial cloverleaf interchange -- with two loops to carry the traffic, such as the intersection at U.S. 1 and Route 100 -- and a diamond-shaped interchange, similar to one at Routes 32 and 70.
"The primary consideration for the interchange is the level of traffic that can pass through the intersection without disruption," Dagenais said. "The most appropriate interchange would be cost-wise, user-friendly and have a good level of service."
Steve Foster of the State Highway Administration discussed the partial cloverleaf and diamond options and took questions from task force members.
Foster said that construction of either interchange would take roughly three years and would ideally begin about spring 1998.
Foster estimated cost of the partial cloverleaf to be about $17.5 million and about $13 million for the diamond.
The difference in cost, he said, is in the construction of the loops and relocation of the Park and Ride necessary with the partial cloverleaf. He added that with either option, traffic would have to be shifted in at least one direction during construction.
Task force members at Wednesday's meeting laid out the pros and cons of each interchange option, but did not endorse either. While the task force's deliberations on the long-term solution will continue, Dagenais said he is pleased with the immediate lane additions. He also said that the task force hopes the lane additions will proceed quickly to help expedite the construction schedule for the long-term interchange.
"The additional lanes are a quick fix that will keep it from getting worse until the final interchange [is built]," he said.
Pub Date: 7/26/96