Route 3 bypass meeting tomorrow


Crofton residents and state highway officials agree that the stretch of state Route 3 that runs through Crofton is chronically overcrowded. But they can't agree on what to do about it.

The State Highway Administration wants to turn the existing road into a controlled access highway with local access roads. But Crofton residents prefer a bypass to the west of Route 3.

A task force pondering the question is to meet at 6 p.m. tomorrow in the Bowie City Hall to discuss possible remedies.

About 15 task force members boarded State Highway Administration vans Saturday morning for a 2 1/2 -hour tour of potential bypass routes that highlighted the drawbacks associated with each alignment.

The controlled-access highway would not be built to interstate standards, but on a scale similar to that of U.S. 50 through Kent Island, SHA travel forecaster Heather Murphy said yesterday.

But that would disrupt Crofton residents' life by complicating even a simple trip to the Post Office, fretted Edwin Dosek, Crofton Civic Association president. Businesses along Route 3, including those in the median, would be disrupted for at least five years during construction and some might be displaced altogether, he said.

But the so-called "western alternative," which would wind around Crofton from a point near the intersection of state Routes 3 and 175 to a point south of the junction of Routes 3 and 450, would run into sensitive wetlands along the Patuxent River. All three potential alignments also would require construction in Patuxent River flood plains.

"What I saw on the west side was a terrific environmental problem and a terrific wetland and water management problem," Carl Gliniak, a task force member from Bowie, said after Saturday's tour. "There is water everywhere. Water, water, water, water."

A third possibility is a bypass swinging east around Crofton, from Route 175 to near U.S. 50.

"We think there's a lot more fatal flaws on that side," Ms. Murphy said.

An eastern bypass would require a wider crossing of the Patuxent River, raising more environmental red flags. It could run into new residential developments and would have to avoid the U.S. Air Force's Globecom transmitter station.

Rough preliminary estimates place the cost of the western alternative at about $200 million, Ms. Murphy said.

The estimated cost of upgrading Route 3 into a controlled-access highway is about $300 million, she said.

The task force hopes to reach a consensus in time to include the improvements in coming updates of the master plans of Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties. Any construction is at least eight to 10 years away, Ms. Murphy said.

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