OXON HILL – South county commuters will see fewer red lights come 2018 and, eventually, officials hope brake lights will be rarer too. Gov. Larry Hogan, during his tour of Prince George’s County on June 15, announced plans for the construction of an interchange at MD Route 210 and Kerby Hill and Livingston roads. “This […]
OXON HILL – South county commuters will see fewer red lights come 2018 and, eventually, officials hope brake lights will be rarer too.
Gov. Larry Hogan, during his tour of Prince George’s County on June 15, announced plans for the construction of an interchange at MD Route 210 and Kerby Hill and Livingston roads.
“This project will break a major bottleneck that has plagued local residents and commuters for decades,” he said.
Beginning this far the State Highway Administration (SHA) will build the interchange to control merging traffic both southbound and northbound onto 210. It includes an overpass to carry traffic over Route 210, which will have traffic signals on it to replace the ones currently at Wilson Bridge Drive and Kerby Hill/Livingston roads. Traffic moving southbound on 210 will be able to pass under the overpass without waiting for a traffic light to change.
On Kerby Hill Road itself, SHA plans to realign the roadway and add new outside shoulders. A service road parallel to southbound 210 will also ease the travel of residents in the area, Hogan said.
State Sen. Anthony Muse (D-26) said constituents have complained extensively about the bottleneck on Route 210 heading toward the Capital Beltway.
“The question is what haven’t they said? They’ve said everything. It takes an hour to get from Accokeek to the Beltway in the morning – totally ridiculous,” he said.
And without corrective measures, the congestion is estimated to only get worse, with traffic on 210 projected to increase from 82,700 vehicles per day to 126,350 by 2035 in part to the opening of the new MGM casino at National Harbor.
“Having National Harbor expand, which we need, and having MGM coming there, which brings in thousands of other persons and drivers, it’s imperative to the constituents here that they know they will not be sitting in gridlock every day in and out,” Muse said.
Muse said the main problem in the area is the traffic lights at every intersection. He said he would like to see interchanges like this one stretch all the way from the Beltway to at least the Charles County border.
While the new interchange will serve to relieve congestion once it opens to traffic in the fall of 2018, drivers will face negative impacts during construction, said Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn.
“We are very cognizant of the frustration people have when they are in congestion at all, but particularly when they are in congestion that is being caused because of projects like this,” Rahn said. “Unfortunately, there is simply no way to undertake projects like right here and not have an impact on existing traffic. But our approach is to do them as quickly as we possibly can.”
Rahn said the project is a design-build one, with construction contractors and architectural engineers working together directly for greater speed in completion.
Hogan said this $115.4 million project ($34.1 million from state funds and $81.3 million from federal) is just one of a number of highway projects in store for the county, totaling $923 million. He called the investment “historic and unprecedented.”
“When I took office last year, we inherited a state infrastructure that for eight years had been severely ignored and largely underfunded. We promised to finally do something about that,” Hogan said. “As the crews take advantage of extended daylight hours and good weather, this summer we’re going to be moving forward on an awful lot of road projects here.”
Other county projects include a $55 million interchange at Route 5 and Accokeek and Brandywine roads; $56 million to rebuild U.S. Route 1 through College Park to build it up to a four-lane divided highway with bicycle and pedestrian accommodations; $150 million for a full interchange between the Beltway and the Greenbelt Metro station (in the event the site is chosen for the new FBI headquarters); and $143 million on an interchange at Maryland Route 4 and Suitland Parkway that is “making progress.”
Hogan took the opportunity to inject politics into the interchange announcement as well, calling out Democrats in Annapolis for passing a bill that created a new formula for funding state transportation projects when previously the decision on which to prioritize was left to the governor.
He said the formula puts all these county road projects at risk of losing funding.
“We will not let that happen,” Hogan said. “I want to personally give my sincere thanks to Sen. Muse for standing up and for showing tremendous leadership on this issue. It’s because of the support of leaders like him that we will not allow our roads and our highways to go back down a path of neglect and under-investment.”
Muse said he opposes the formula because it ranks all projects together across the state instead of comparing the Prince George’s County projects to only other Prince George’s County projects; it removed congestion as a criterion in ranking the projects; and it makes elected leaders less accountable to constituents for provided results on road improvements.
“We did the wrong thing. We absolutely got involved in a partisan fight. They think it helped them. In the long run it actually hurts all of our county and all of our state to have that kind of formula,” Muse said.
He said the formula will most likely be amended next session.