Route to Delaware beaches will remain a slog

Ron Rudolf of Ellicott City posed a timely question about the propects for improvements on Route 404 -- a main route to the Delaware resorts of Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach and Lewes. As we approach Labor Day, many Marylanders can look forward to sitting in traffic on this road through Queen Anne's County, Caroline County and Delaware.

Rudolf wrote:

 A topic that is certain to have very broad appeal among readers is the current status in increasing MD Eastern Shore's Rt. 404 (the highway of death?) from a two lane to a four lane highway.  WIKEPEDIA states that this is to come about as a result of the Obama stimulus package.  I was wondering, just when does this begin?  Will the entire section of Rt 404 become a four lane highway from Rt. 50 all the way to the Delaware Line?  If so, will Delaware extend their portion further toward the beaches?  If not, one wonders why the Feds don't step in top make this happen.

I can answer the last question: The feds just don't do that. They leave local highway decisions to the states.

The other questions I put to Dave Buck of the State Highway Administration. He wrote back:

The next phase of the widening along MD 404 between east of Tuckahoe Creek and east of MD 480 was announced last weekend by Governor O'Malley at an event to dedicate the MD 404 Bridge over the Choptank River to former Governor Harry Hughes.  This widening along MD 404 is being funded with stimulus $$ and will begin in the next several weeks. 
Motorists that travel along MD 404 are likely aware SHA has already widened two sections of MD 404 over the past several years.  We opened a new four-lane divided section along MD 404 between south of Legion Road and Double Hills Road in 2005 and a second section between Double Hills Road and Sennett Road in 2007. 
The ultimate goal is to widen an additional 11.8 miles along MD 404 between US 50 and MD 404 Business west of Denton.  Of course, this will take many years and quite a bit of funding that is currently not available.  This will be done in segments just as has been done in the past 7-8 years (makes sense both from a funding perspective and a impact perspective).
The stimulus funding certainly is helping to keep the momentum moving forward on MD 404 with the announcement of this next phase to begin this year.
Delaware has no plans to widen Del 404. 

Buck said Delaware officials have been very clear on that point: "It's something they don't want to consider.. . . They've shown no interest in pursuing that."

So there you have it: Maryland can widen 404 all the way from U.S. 50 to the state line and you'll still have a backup where it narrows down to two lanes. That's one reason Maryland has made the stretch of 404 west of Denton its priority.

Options for travelers include:

1. Boycotting Delaware and telling their beach town chambers of commerce why.

2. Getting a Maryland highway rooad map in order to plot an alternate route to avoid jams.

3. Traveling at off-peak times.

4. Accepting delays as a test of character.




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