Unclogging the bottleneck at NSA Anne Arundel County: U.S. and state have a vested interest in helping to fix Route 32.

February 05, 1997

AN EASY FLOWING Route 32 is essential for myriad reasons, in which all three levels of government have a stake.

At the county level, ending the bottleneck at Route 32 at the National Security Agency is crucial if officials hope to develop Odenton into a town center. In fact, Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary is willing to put up $5 million to upgrade the stretch of road that now clogs up around NSA.

For most of its passage through Anne Arundel, Route 32 is a limited access, four-lane divided highway -- except near NSA. Around that major employer, the road narrows and traffic signals govern the numerous cross streets that connect the NSA campus with Fort George G. Meade. The highway is a major east-west thoroughfare, linking Interstates 95 and 295 with I-97, so the bottlenecks at NSA aggravate motorists headed toward Odenton or Annapolis. State planners have estimated the cost of new interchanges at Route 198 and NSA and additional service roads at $57 million.

On a state level, this highway is a vital inter-county connector. In fact, the state plans to expand the road through Howard County between Route 108 and I-70 as a link toward Western Maryland. Carroll County officials would also like to see their portion of the road upgraded into South Carroll to attract business.

On a federal level, the road is important to NSA and Fort Meade. While the U.S. government has been a major financier of highways and improvements, particularly around key defense installations, it has not responded to a request by Gov. Parris N. Glendening for help with the Route 32 widening. The state, while committed to the project, has yet to appropriate construction money, either.

To jump start the process, Mr. Gary has proposed an unusual arrangement to raise the county's portion of the funds. He would create a special taxing district of 1,000 acres that would issue the bonds needed to finance improvements. The expectation is that removal of the current bottleneck will increase property values, which will generate added revenues to pay off the bonds.

Given the importance of these improvements, this project merits greater attention from state and federal authorities as well as Anne Arundel County.

Pub Date: 2/05/97

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