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Hogan announces $152 million for Md. 32 improvements

Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled a plan Thursday to spend $152 million on improvements to Md. 32, changes that Carroll and Howard county officials say could result in a major improvement in the quality of life for local commuters.

Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled a plan Thursday to spend $152 million on improvements to Md. 32, changes that Carroll and Howard county officials say could result in a major improvement in the quality of life for local commuters.

"Md. 32 simply doesn't meet the needs of Marylanders, and they deserve better," Hogan, surrounded by officials from Howard and Carroll counties, said at the news conference, hosted at the State Highway Administration building in Dayton.

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The project will widen the stretch of Md. 32 — a major artery in the southeast Carroll and northern Howard County region — between Md. 108 and Interstate 70 from a two-lane road to a four-lane divided highway and study ways to widen the road and alleviate traffic north of I-70 and into Carroll County.

Expected to begin this summer, the project will be completed in three phases.

Phase I, according to a release from the governor's office, will transform the portion of Md. 32 between Md. 108 and Linden Church Road into four lanes and will cost a projected $33 million split between the state and Howard County, both of which will contribute $16.5 million. That stretch of road, the governor's office said, is expected to see traffic almost double by 2035.

Phase II will focus on widening the road between Linden Church Road and I-70. That project is expected to cost $107 million and will begin in 2019. It will include another $6 million project to replace a structurally deficient bridge on Tridelphia Road over Md. 32, something necessary in order to widen the roadway, according to the release.

Phase III, which began in the fall, involves the state conducting a planning study to determine how to most effectively widen Md. 32 from I-70 to Md. 26 in Eldersburg. Another related project will devote $5 million to improve the intersection near Sykesville's armory.

"I was a chief critic of the policies of the last administration when it came to transportation," said Hogan, who last year scrapped plans to build a Red Line train line in Baltimore in favor of a $135 million plan to improve busing options in the city.

The plan for Md. 32, he said, delivers on a promise he made during his campaign for the governor's office to put a renewed focus on the state's infrastructure, including its highways and bridges.

"We are doing exactly what we said we would do," he said.

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said the improvements to the roadway answer years of requests by both Howard and Carroll counties to address an unsafe and overused section of road.

"Everyone knows how terrible traffic has been and how deadly it's been for our residents," he said, calling the project long overdue.

Carroll officials said they had been asking for a study on Md. 32 for years.

"It's long been a primary objective of Carroll County government to see improvements along the Md. 32 corridor," said Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5.

The effects of improving the road will be felt throughout all aspects of county life, he said after the news conference. Many southeastern Carroll residents travel along Md. 32 regularly for work and recreation, he said, and the alleviation of congestion in that area will help improve the quality of life for those residents and for others.

"The timing couldn't be better," he said, noting that the county and town of Sykesville have made progress lately in developing the town's Warfield Complex, which is off Md. 32, into a destination for work and life in the region.

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"It puts us right in the center of where we want to be," Howard said.

"It's a win for us," said Del. Haven Shoemaker, a Republican representing Carroll County in Annapolis.

After years of county requests for help with problematic and overburdened infrastructure, he said, Carroll officials feel they're finally being heard.

"The governor's priority is delivering transportation money to projects many people actually use," he said.

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Twitter.com/heatherleighnor

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