Gov. Larry Hogan and County Executive Allan Kittleman spoke together in Clarksville today at the groundbreaking for the expansion of Route 32.
The project, the first of three phases to improve traffic flow in the notoriously congested area, will widen Route 32 between Route 108 and Linden Church Road. The $37.5 million in improvements will be split between the county and the state.
"Too many have experienced the severe congestion common here in this corridor of Howard County, and some people have even lost loved ones in fatal crashes along this corridor. This two-lane road was simply not built to handle the volume of traffic," Hogan said at the press conference. "So beginning today that is going to end. The state is answering your call and we are finally going to break the bottleneck on this busy highway."
More than 30,000 vehicles drive on Route 32 every day, officials said during the groundbreaking, and that number is expected to rise to 52,000 by 2040.
Phase I is broken down into three zones, beginning with grading — making the ground level — about 3,000 feet south of the Linden Church Road interchange and continuing to Route 108.
Once completed, crews will move the barrier north toward the Linden Church Road interchange along the southbound shoulder and continue grading. Construction will create two 12-foot lanes and shoulders, and a 34-foot open section median.
The new travel lanes will eventually become southbound lanes on Route 32, while its original lanes are converted for northbound drivers. The final phase should conclude by late fall 2018.
Public meetings are planned during the construction to provide updates on the project's status, and the State Highway Administration will post information on the project on its website.
Kittleman lauded the governor's commitment to improve traffic and safety in the area, saying that he wanted to keep the flow of vehicles off the county's local roads, where it endangers residents.
"We know that we live in the middle of the state. Everybody drives through us," Kittleman said. "And we can't stop that, but we gotta make it safe for us when they're driving through us. And that's what this will do."
Reach Kate Magill at email@example.com.