While the construction on Route 40 at Route 715 in Aberdeen will cause some traffic headaches for the next year, a number of people who will be affected say they look forward to improvements they hope the project will bring.
During an informational meeting held by the State Highway Administration Wednesday night at Aberdeen Middle School, SHA staff working on the project were available to answer the public's questions and concerns. There were plenty of interested visitors.
Educational poster boards listing lane closures, future benefits and what exactly will be done on the $18 million project were also on display.
The second phase of the project will close the ramp to southbound Route 715 from eastbound Route 40, which leads to the visitors gate at Aberdeen Proving Ground, and a temporary relocation ramp will be created. A traffic signal will be installed at that detour.
Fran Ward, community liaison for SHA District 4, called the construction "a major project for State Highway." The reason for the meeting, she added, was to "get people up to speed on the project."
When all is said and done, the bridge over Route 40 will be widened, as will the road – four lanes in each direction from the Route 40 interchange to Old Philadelphia Road (Route 7).
Lanes on the Route 715 bridge will be re-striped to create three lanes in each direction, the ramp to Route 715 will be widened and relocated to provide three lanes and a new spur ramp northbound, the Route 715-Old Philadelphia Road intersection will be improved and there will be new traffic signals southbound on Route 715 to eastbound Route 40, on the spur ramp to northbound Route 715 and then again at the Cirelli Court intersection.
Weather permitting, the project will be completed by midsummer of 2013.
People attending Wednesday's meeting came and went as they pleased, casually strolling past the informational boards and asking questions, when they had one, of SHA staff.
Margaret Yohe, an Aberdeen resident who lives right off Route 40, said she would be finding alternative routes to avoid the expected traffic issues during construction..
"I'll learn to live with it for the advantages," she said.
Yohe also commented that the project was "supposed to be done" several years ago, but the funding was put toward the Inter-county Connector, which goes through Prince George's and Montgomery counties.
Jack Phipps, of Fallston, felt the same way.
"This all should've been done before BRAC happened," the APG employee said.
Calling the ICC a "white elephant," Phipps said no one in Harford County was benefiting from the newly constructed highway, but "everybody in this room paid for this sucker [ICC]."
Another Aberdeen resident, Uyesh Bhatti, said he isn't concerned about the issues that may arise from the Route 40 construction.
"I'm pleased to know infrastructure needed for BRAC is happening," he said.
Bhatti welcomes the improvements, as he described traffic on Routes 40 and 7 as "unbearable."
"It's beneficial to all," he said.
"I'm eager for this to start and be completed," Aberdeen City Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young, who also attended the meeting, said.
Young said she is surprised more people at APG don't use mass transportation.
If mass transit were used more, she said, there would be "less stacking of cars" on Route 40. The traffic can be such a nightmare, she continued, that she questions if it's worth it when she has to travel that road.
Arlen Crabb, who lives on Route 7 in Aberdeen, chimed in, saying traffic can be so bad in the morning on his way to work that it takes him five minutes just to make it down his driveway.
Crabb is worried, however, that the improvements along 40 and 715 will only make things worse.
"I dread the traffic [when the project is completed]," he said.
Crabb noted that he has been at his residence since 1972 and has watched traffic become heavier over the years.
"[Route 7] is not designed for that kind of traffic," he added.