OXON HILL – Community leaders updated residents on the next phase of the 210 Interchange Construction Project during a local meeting on Sept. 5.
Hosted by Prince George’s County Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker (District 8), representatives from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA), the Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPW&T) and Metro gave residents new information on the transportation project.
“We are very excited about this overpass coming in because we do recognize that this overpass will, in time, alleviate traffic for us and we recognize that it will make travel more efficient on 210,” Anderson-Walker said. “Safety, of course, is one of our main priorities, so we want to focus on safety. Engineering is a good piece of that safety, and I think the design will make a safer area for all of us.”
The 210 Interchange Construction Project began two years ago to alleviate traffic congestion on the busy highway. It serves as the main thoroughfare connecting Washington, D.C. to suburban communities, said MDOT SHA District Engineer Andre Futrell. A total of 80,000 cars drive on 210 every day.
The project will add an overpass at the intersection of Kirby Hill Road and Livingston Road and remove the signal at Wilson Bridge Drive.
Construction on the road is expected to be completed in 2021; however, this phase of the project will require road closures, detours and rerouted buses.
The major construction project will require the intersection at Kirby Hill and Livingston Road to be closed on Oct. 1. Commuters will be required to take detours through the residential side roads. Intermittent lane closures on 210 will also be possible between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Additionally, effective Sept. 15, Metrobus routes D13 and D14 will be on a long-term detour for the duration of the two-year project.
Improved safety is also a reason for road improvements as 210 has been notorious for horrific car crashes and excessive speeding.
According to Futrell, over 1,800 speeding violations were recorded at the Kirby Hill Road intersection in 2018. With the recent addition of speed cameras there, violations have reduced to 235. The hope is that the completion of this construction project will remove additional conflicts at the Kirby Hill Road and Wilson Bridge Drive intersections.
“We really need to be much more thoughtful about the road that we are on, the roads that we share and the safety of those,” said Anderson-Walker, who started a safe driving initiative earlier this year called #DrivingItHome.
According to MDOT SHA Project Engineer David Jackson, the 210 construction project was supposed to be completed in November 2018 but utility delays caused the timeline to increase.
“It’s going to be a long process. Hopefully, we’ll have a nice, mild winter to be able to do a fair amount of construction for this second and critical phase of construction,” Jackson said.
Residents came to the meeting with mixed reactions and a lot of questions for the officials. One of the major concerns was the use of the detours on residential roads such as Murray Hill Drive, Tucker Road and Palmer Road. People were concerned about the high volume of traffic on these roads that were not built for highway traffic. Some of the areas include small two-lane roads and others are already in need of repairs.
Some people recommended preparing the roads before the detours began. Others wondered if there will be any funding provided to fix the streets as they get underway. The officials at the meeting pointed out that as 210 is a state road and the side roads are county roads. The county and state will work together to assess what needs to be done and provide funding as needed.
“As the project continues to go forward, it’s a state project but we are in sort of a constant dance, for lack of a better word, with them as the project unfolds,” said DPW&T Deputy Director Martin Harris. “So we are constantly going to be examining the impacts of what’s happening as we move forward as a result of not just the traffic, but road impacts as well.
“So, I can’t say at the moment that there is a plan for something specific like that right now, but we are making adjustments to keep things moving as it goes forward.”
Some residents remained skeptical of the project like Cynthia Proctor, a 14-year resident of Oxon Hill. She wondered why the problem with 210 is just now being addressed and why state and county officials were not better prepared to accommodate the people who live along the detour routes.
Others, such as resident David Owens, thanked those working on the project for their leadership and commented on how the project will not only be positive for not only relieving traffic but for the region as a whole.
“I think the reason that there is such a dearth of restaurants and economic development around this area now is because Indian Head Highway as it looks now is awful,” he said.
Cain Saimbre, who recently moved to Fort Washington, said she had been curious about the project because she had heard about the traffic chokepoints on 210. While she was one of many residents who found the map of the detours confusing, she said she has hopes that the finished project will enhance the area.