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05.29.14 County Executive Ulman and State Officials Launch Projects to Eliminate US Route 29 Bottleneck and Improve MD Route 32 Safety

May 29, 2014

Media Contacts: Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Valerie Burnette Edgar, Maryland Department of Transportation, 410-545-0303

County Executive Ulman and State Officials Launch Projects to Eliminate US Route 29 Bottleneck and Improve MD Route 32 Safety

New investments move key Baltimore area transportation projects forward in 2014, supporting nearly 1,600 jobs

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Ken Ulman today joined Maryland Transportation Secretary James Smith, Jr., and other state lawmakers and officials to launch two major road projects that will improve the quality of life in Howard County. Construction is set to begin to widen a three-mile stretch of US Route 29 in Columbia, removing a major traffic bottleneck that impacts thousands of motorists during rush hour. Construction will also begin on major safety improvements to a one-mile section of MD Route 32. Both projects are primarily funded through the Maryland Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013.

The US Route 29 project will add a third northbound lane between Seneca Drive to the south and MD Route 175 to the north, along with sound barriers. The lane will help alleviate significant back-ups that occur during rush hour and other times. The $32.7 million construction project is expected to be completed in 2016.

“This project will mean a better quality of life for Howard County, the Baltimore region and all of Maryland,” said County Executive Ulman. “It means we can be more productive in our careers. It means we can get to our kids’ practices and games on time. It means more quality time for families.”

On MD Route 32, a one-mile section from West Friendship Road to the north, to Day Road to the south, will be expanded to create a center turn lane, acceleration and deceleration areas, and bicycle lanes on shoulders. Construction on the $8.75 million project is set to begin this summer, and will be completed in Fall 2015.

The US Route 29 project has been the Ulman administration’s top road construction priority, and the County is contributing $2 million in funding. MD Route 32 has been the administration’s top road safety priority, after several fatal accidents in the area prompted a major community push for improvements.

“World-class communities need world-class infrastructure, and these projects will create jobs and boost our economy,” County Executive Ulman said. “As a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding, I know that the decision to move ahead with this program was not easy. I commend Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown for their leadership, and I thank the members of the General Assembly who approved these important investments in our future.”

“We will be creating much safer communities because of these projects,” said Howard County Council Vice Chairperson Courtney Watson. “Too many drivers detour through our neighborhoods to avoid bottlenecks on our major roads, and we will now be creating more capacity to avoid that from happening.”

County Executive Ulman noted that MD Route 32 improvements had been designated as the County’s top safety priority because of traffic fatalities on the road. Howard County had worked with the community to develop short-term improvements, “but we knew we needed a more permanent solution,” he said.

The State also announced funding to plan for adding an additional lane to US Route 29 closer to the Montgomery County line.

“One year after signing the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013, we are delivering major Baltimore area transportation projects that will relieve congestion, improve safety and create jobs,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “US Route 29 is a vital roadway connecting and strengthening the economic development opportunities of the Baltimore and Washington regions. I want to thank County Executive Ulman for contributing County funds to help us advance this project.”

At the groundbreaking, Transportation Secretary Smith outlined other key transportation projects that are set to move forward in the Baltimore region this year as a result of $148 million in transportation investments by the State and Federal Government. These investments will support nearly 1,600 local jobs.

Also launching in 2014 are:

  • I-695 Improvements from MD Route 147 to MD Route 41: $30-$35 million; and
  • I-695 at Leeds Avenue /US Route 1 Interchange Improvements and Bridge Replacements: $65-$70 million

"These projects will provide a welcome relief for area residents and travelers in the Baltimore region,” said Senator Edward Kasemeyer, who represents Baltimore and Howard counties and who attended the groundbreaking. “From US Route 29 to the Baltimore Beltway interchanges, the Transportation Act is delivering projects that will enhance safety and better serve these busy corridors.”

The passage of the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013 enabled the Maryland Department of Transportation to add $4.4 billion in new projects to create the largest six-year capital budget in Maryland’s history at $15.6 billion. Over the spring and summer months, the State will continue to review project needs and make investment decisions before developing an updated draft six-year transportation budget to be published this fall.

“Legislative inattention over the last two decades has resulted in a backlog of more than $50 billion in planned highway and transit infrastructure projects,” said Senator James Robey of Howard County. “Maryland traffic congestion is ranked among the worst in the nation, and this undertaking will go a long way towards reducing traffic congestion, improving our roads and promoting public safety.”

“Due to our location in central Maryland, Howard County plays a critical role in movement throughout the state,” Delegate Guy Guzzone. “This is the kind of investment that will support both businesses and commuters.”

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