The State Highway Administration has launched a $10 million interchange project on Interstate 97 near Quarterfield Road to handle traffic growth in the area -- a project that could keep some lanes closed at off-peak hours over the next two years.
Workers began preparing the site in the Glen Burnie area last month and will be working for about 18 months. The project will include improvements to a bridge and to Quarterfield Road's intersection with I-97.
SHA spokesman David Buck said traffic in the area is expected to increase by 45 percent over the next 20 years.
"That's a normal increase," Buck said. "This is a very practical strategy to identify that it needs to happen."
SHA estimates that the interchange serves 25,000 drivers each day.
The planned work includes replacing the two-lane bridge over Quarterfield Road -- also known as Route 174 -- with a six-lane bridge; building a new median along the bridge; and installing a sound barrier to shield the Glen Burnie Park residents from increased noise. The state also will improve drainage along Quarterfield Road and build a sidewalk on its westbound side.
The state also plans to move the southbound I-97 ramp to Quarterfield Road about 300 feet west of where it is. The new ramp will be wider.
Drivers may encounter single-lane closures from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and occasional double-lane closures from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on I-97 during construction. Concrete barriers, arrows, signs, cones and barrels will guide motorists through the construction, and signs will alert drivers to changes in the traffic patterns.
Democratic state Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr., who represents the area, said residents have expected the disruptions.
"This is long overdue. The bridge has been failing," he said. "The community has been very involved in the planning process."
DeGrange said area residents are pleased that the state is erecting sound barriers.
Said Buck: "We're the ones adding the noise. That's why the barriers are justified."