A run of bad weather has delayed construction of the interchange of U.S. 29 at Routes 103 and 100 by as much as four months.
Originally expected to open in December, a bridge over U.S. 29 connecting St. Johns Lane to Route 103 probably won't open until April, said John Healy, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration.
"It was mainly the wet fall weather, and recently we've had the chill and the snow," Mr. Healy said.
The entire $28 million interchange, which will serve as the western terminus of Route 100, was expected to be completed by the end of 1993 but now is more likely to be finished in April 1994, Mr. Healy said.
Once the bridge opens, motorists won't have to endure as much congestion at the traffic light on U.S. 29. New ramps from U.S. 29 will siphon some traffic away from the light, enabling traffic engineers to speed up the light cycle.
Highway authorities estimate that the last exit ramps will be completed by midsummer, allowing the elimination of the light.
Timothy A. Kepp, a St. Johns Lane resident, said he is looking forward to elimination of the light to steer traffic off his street.
"During rush hour, people are avoiding 29 because of the light," he said. "The traffic is quite often backed up south of [Route] 108.
"When that light is eliminated, people will be back on the main road where they belong and there will be less cut-through traffic on St. Johns lane."
Still, the delays are understandable, said Mr. Kepp, an engineer for a Washington-area utility company.
"I've lived here since 1980, and I've waited a long time for someone to do something about traffic. It's just a question of later rather than sooner. I'm just glad they bid this contract in spite of the recession."
Once the light is removed, motorists will have smooth sailing on U.S. 29 from just north of Interstate 70 to just south of state Route 32.
In the interim, however, the new traffic pattern may inconvenience motorists who regularly go from westbound Route 103 to northbound U.S. 29. Motorists can now get onto northbound U.S. 29 on a direct on ramp, but that ramp will be closed to make room for construction of a longer and safer ramp.
After the bridge opens, they will have to turn left onto Old Columbia Pike, right at the St. Johns Lane crossover and right onto U.S. 29.
Similarly, motorists coming from St. Johns Lane will have to rTC cross the new bridge and turn right onto Old Columbia Pike to get onto U.S. 29.
When the light is eliminated, traffic from the northbound lanes of U.S. 29 will be shifted to the southbound side, where the two directions of traffic will be separated with a concrete divider. That will allow work on the new northbound lanes, which will be moved 200 feet east.
The final phase will involve the opening of Long Gate Parkway and its interchange with Route 100. That phase will take traffic off Old Columbia Pike and shift it to the eastbound Route 100 ramp and the parkway to get to Route 103 and St. Johns Lane.