The state of Maryland and the Defense Department have reached agreement on critical traffic improvements in and around Fort Meade in preparation for an influx of new workers expected to arrive as a result of the base relocation and closing process.
The State Highway Administration and the Fort Meade command made a deal under which the state will provide $10 million for improvements to a gate on the post that is considered a potential bottleneck when the work force at the Defense Information Systems Agency, located on fort grounds, expands under the base realignment process.
Transportation officials are concerned that if the Rockenbach Road gate is not expanded, long lines at the security checkpoint could cause traffic to back up onto Route 175 to the north of the post.
In return for the gate improvements, the federal government will grant easements on base property to allow the state to proceed with a long-term project to widen Route 175 from the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to Route 170 in Anne Arundel County. The swap will make 50 to 65 acres available to the SHA for the $350 million expansion of Route 175, one of the main corridors serving the fort.
The deal was announced Wednesday at Fort Meade by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, chairman of the Governor's Subcabinet for Base Realignment and Closure.
Brown said the state had secured funding for $4 million in other road projects designed to improve traffic flow around the fort. The administration added $3 million to its spending plans for engineering and design of improved intersections at Route 175 and Reece Road, Mapes Road and Charter Oaks Boulevard. The state also allocated $1 million to study the traffic effects of the expansion of the Cyber Command on Route 32, which runs along the southern edge of Fort Meade where the National Security Agency has its headquarters.
The establishment of the Cyber Command at Fort Meade is expected to eventually bring 21,000 jobs to the area.
The state's long-term plans call for a widening of a 5-mile stretch of Route 175. In the short term, the highway agency plans improvements at key intersections along the route. Preliminary work at two Route 175 intersections, at Rockenbach Road/Ridge Road and Disney Road/26th Street, has begun. Construction contracts are expected to be put out for bid this fall.