Glitches likely to delay opening of the new Route 100 until Sept. Stall of several weeks caused by problems described as minor

June 21, 1998|By Robert Little | Robert Little,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Some unexpected construction glitches likely will delay the opening of the new Route 100 through eastern Howard County until late September, a stall of several weeks that highway officials say is of little consequence given that the project is already more than two decades in the making.

State Highway Administration engineer Bob Fisher described the problems as minor. An old foundation for the road near Interstate 95 has deteriorated more than expected and must be repaved, and large sound barriers being erected near U.S. 29 are proving difficult to install.

Because of those problems, the entire roadway -- including the I-95 ramps onto eastbound Route 100 recently closed for repaving -- won't open until early fall, probably late September.

Original completion date

Even with the delay, the project still will be completed faster than most of its size and scope, state highway officials said. Original estimates predicted completion next spring.

When it opens, Route 100 will be a four-lane divided highway connecting areas south of Ellicott City directly to I-95 and on into northern Anne Arundel County. It is expected to reduce congestion on the county's other east-west roadways -- Routes 175, 108 and 32.

State and county transportation planners first proposed the express route through eastern Howard in the early 1970s, but construction was put off by shifting priorities and a shortage of funds. The current project began in October 1996.

The road's long history is partly responsible for its current complications. The foundation installed near I-95 in anticipation of the road's construction sat idle for more than 20 years and must be refurbished.

"Over that amount of time, it just gets beat up," said Mark Flack, assistant engineer for construction. "Driving on it can actually be better for it than letting the sun beat on it all that time."

The $58 million improvement is technically two projects and will be finished in stages. The section between Snowden River Parkway and U.S. 29 should be completed first, followed by the portion east of Snowden River Parkway to I-95.

$253 million overhaul

The combined effort represents the last step in a $253 million overhaul of Route 100 from central Howard County southeast to Interstate 97 in Anne Arundel County.

Roughly coinciding with the opening of Route 100 will be the completion of Snowden River Parkway south from the new road to Route 32. That project, financed by Howard County and the Rouse Co., should also be completed in the fall, said county Public Works Director James Irvin.

Pub Date: 6/21/98

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