Motorists trying to get onto Route 103 from northbound U.S. 29 will become the first to drive on a long-awaited section of Route 100 next week, although they will be going the wrong way.
Going the wrong way won't be any problem, however, as northbound motorists on 29 are currently squeezed together with southbound motorists on the southbound side of of the highway.
The squeeze is necessary because northbound lanes are being relocated about 200 feet east in the area of the Route 100 interchange. To finish those lanes, the temporary ramp that connects northbound traffic to Route 103 and Old Columbia Pike will have to be closed.
Despite a sign that gave today as the likely date for the ramp closure, the move probably will happen Tuesday, said Larry O. Patterson, State Highway Administration project coordinator for Howard County.
The change in date resulted from a delay in getting electric power to a new traffic signal at Long Gate Parkway and Route 103, Mr. Patterson said.
Original plans called for traffic exiting from northbound 29 to be directed onto one lane of the relocated northbound lanes and then onto the new ramp to eastbound Route 100, but engineers found a better way, Mr. Patterson said.
"That's not the safest way to do it; there's too many movements in that area," he said.
Instead, motorists on the temporary northbound lanes of 29 will be directed onto a new bridge over the unfinished northbound lanes of 29, east on the westbound side of the new Route 100, then across the median and onto the new Long Gate Parkway overpass. At the end of the parkway, motorists can turn right or left onto Route 103 at a new traffic signal.
After the traffic is rerouted, the next major step in the interchange's progress will be the opening of the new northbound lanes, which Mr. Patterson said will probably occur next spring.
He said he expects the entire project will be completed on time in May.
State highway engineers plan to have the interchange's completion coincide with the completion of two sections of Route 100 -- including one built by developer Patrick McCuan -- that will provide a two-lane link from U.S. 29 to Route 104, north of Route 108.
The last section of Route 100 in Howard County, from Route 104 to Interstate 95, is not expected to be completed until 2000.
That segment will link the eastern end of the highway in Ellicott City with the western end, from I-95 to Pasadena in Anne Arundel County, which is expected to be completed in two years.