Route 3 upgrade options chosen

3 plans to be presented at community meeting Thursday in Crofton

`It's really, really flexible'

Proposals offer additional lanes, new overpasses

May 16, 2004|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

The State Highway Administration has narrowed to three its list of possible upgrade plans for a nine-mile stretch of Route 3, one of Anne Arundel County's busiest commuter roads.

Two of the plans - each projected to cost $400 million or more - would add lanes to the stretch between Millersville and Bowie, where the road intersects with Route 50.

Crofton and Bowie residents have complained for years about increased congestion on Route 3. The state expects that virtually all intersections in the stretch will be unable to serve traffic demands within 20 years.

State officials are scheduled to present the improvement options at a community meeting Thursday at Crofton Middle School.

"We're hoping to hear what the community wants to see for this roadway and what it doesn't want to see," said Christopher J. Weber, project manager for the State Highway Administration. "We can mix and match the plans. We want to emphasize that it's really, really flexible."

The three options include:

Making no significant changes to the route.

Widening parts of the road from two to three lanes, adding five overpasses at busy intersections and changing the alignment of the road in Prince George's County.

Widening the road, adding overpasses and realigning the route in Anne Arundel so that the northbound and southbound sides would be east of the current median.

Under each widening plan, the speed limit for the stretch would drop from 50 mph to 45 mph.

"It's a very complicated roadway in that we're trying to alleviate congestion at peak hours but trying not to create a freeway at off hours," Weber said.

The second option, which would realign the road in Prince George's, is most like the plan recommended by a task force of Crofton, Odenton and Bowie residents in 1998. The Greater Crofton Council voted to support that option with several modifications at a meeting last week.

The project is further complicated by the roadway's proximity to the Patuxent River and its tributaries. Runoff from the road could hurt the river's fish population, highway officials say, and they would need permission from the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Army Corps of Engineers before moving forward.

The state does not have a start date for the project. The General Assembly has funded only the planning phase, which is scheduled to last another year. Then the state would have to design the road and purchase right-of-way land before construction could proceed.

With an $800 million state deficit looming, all road projects will be competing for a limited pool of funding, state highway officials say.

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