Route 100 segment linking I-95 and I-97 opens today 7.5-mile stretch to give Howard more BWI access

November 01, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Route 100 from Interstate 95 in Howard County to Interstate 97 in Anne Arundel County -- deemed by some as one of the most important roadway links in the region for commuters and economic growth -- will open to traffic today, state highway officials said.

The 7.5-mile portion of Route 100 -- which cost nearly $85 million and took six years to complete -- will give Howard greater access to the Baltimore-Washington International Airport area, the Baltimore region's major economic growth generator, local officials said.

But the county will not feel the full potential of the road until two remaining links -- from I-95 to Snowden River Parkway in east Columbia and then northwest to U.S. 29 -- are completed by 1999, said Richard Story, executive director of the county's Economic Development Authority.

The opening will "benefit about half of Howard County. We're still waiting to connect Ellicott City to the rest of the world," Story said. "We're optimistic about the future, but north Columbia and Ellicott City will have to wait a little longer."

Planned since the early 1960s, the entire Route 100 project will link Ellicott City, BWI and Pasadena in Anne Arundel County. The four- and six-lane project -- which is to cost $231 million -- has been delayed repeatedly because of its potential impact on neighborhoods and protected wetlands.

The stretch of the road opening today will mostly benefit the warehousing and distribution businesses along the U.S. 1 corridor, said Neil Shpritz, executive director of the BWI Business Partnership.

A number of office and business parks have sprouted along the Route 100 corridor -- one of the region's few east-west arteries -- and Shpritz predicts there will be much more.

"This is what people have waited for for 35 years. This really opens up the whole airport area," he said. "It will be a tremendous boost to the areas for both passenger vehicles and trucking."

Construction began on the 2.5-mile stretch from I-95 to Snowden River Parkway in Columbia last month. Work on the 2.7-mile section from Snowden River Parkway to U.S. 29 should begin in the spring.

The project, costing $52 million for those two links, should be completed by 1999, said Susan O'Brien, spokeswoman for the State Highway Administration.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled at 1 p.m. today for the I-95-to-I-97 link, and the road should be open in time for the evening rush hour, state highway officials said.

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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