The State Highway Administration has begun construction on a $2.2 million traffic improvement project on Laurel Bowie Road (Route 197) aimed at reducing congestion and traffic accidents.
According to administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar, SHA will convert the existing right auxiliary lane that begins off of Interstate 295 and ends at Muirkirk Road into a right through lane extending north to the intersection of Brock Bridge Road.
"What happens at this location is an operational problem with people trying to go straight [on Route 197]," Gischlar said. "Anyone turning causes a great deal of congestion and when you have that kind of congestion you increase the likelihood of rear-end crashes."
Gischlar said adding the auxiliary lane should reduce the number of rear-end crashes at the intersection. Of the 19 total crashes at the intersection of Brock Bridge Road and Route 197 between 2010 and 2012, 14 were rear-end accidents, he said.
"Anybody that has been there knows anyone making a turn backs that up a little," Gischlar said. "(The lane) reduces congestion and improves safety."
The project, which began last week, will cause single lane closures daily until improvements are complete in fall 2015, Gischlar said, adding that the timeline is conservative, and time is built in for weather delays.
SHA Administrator Melinda Peters said in a statement, "The goal of this road reconstruction project is to improve the flow of traffic in this heavily traveled corridor in Prince George's County."
"We ask that motorists who travel on Laurel Bowie Road slow down and help keep crews inside the work zone safe," she said in a news release announcing the project.
Gischlar said the project is not tied to anticipated development on Brock Bridge Road, which includes a $16 million contract school and residential development funded by Polm Co., which purchased land from the Laurel Moose Lodge in 2011.
In addition to adding a lane, SHA also plans to add drainage improvements to the area, which is prone to flooding.
"Basically, any time it rains there you can expect flooding, so we are putting in significant drainage improvements," Gischlar said.
SHA will also resurface the road, replace and upgrade the guardrail, replace aging concrete curbs and gutters, put in sidewalks that are compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and modify the traffic signals.
Single lane closures are likely on the road Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., while work will also occur with up to two lanes blocked overnight, Sunday through Thursday, 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., according to SHA.
The project is funded through the Maryland Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013. SHA's contractor for the work is Ardent Co., of McLean, Va.