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Changes ahead

The Baltimore Sun

Within a week, the 65,000 motorists who go through the Interstate 95 and Routes 24 and 924 interchange in Abingdon every day will begin to see temporary concrete barriers installed, as crews isolate the work area for a $38 million effort to improve the troublesome crossing.

Drivers might still experience construction-related delays but a nonstop ride from I-95 north to Singer Road is in sight.

The state plans to eliminate the signal for through traffic on Route 24 by building a bridge over Route 924.

"That intersection has always been a bottleneck," said Janice Troutman of Bel Air. "I like the idea of going over it and avoiding the hassles."

The Maryland Transportation Authority unveiled its construction plan for a 1.5-mile stretch of Route 24 from the I-95 ramp to Route 924, a road that already handles a high volume of daily traffic, according to 2007 statistics, officials said.

Work will begin Oct. 27 and take nearly three years to complete.

At workshops last week at the Abingdon Fire Hall, several dozen residents learned details of the project, met with transportation staff and viewed maps and diagrams.

"I really like the way they are doing the intersection," said Jim Richmond of Abingdon. "Anything they do will be an improvement, and they won't be constricting traffic while they are building."

The first phase involves construction of a half-mile temporary roadway in the wooded area along Route 24 that has been designed to keep traffic flowing during construction.

The temporary road, which will tie back into Route 924 at Woodsdale Road, will be razed once the project is completed.

The state's landscape plan calls for replacing any trees destroyed in the construction.

Then, construction will focus on the multilane, signaled intersection at Routes 24 and 924. The intersection causes significant traffic delays and, since most Bel Air-bound vehicles rely on the Route 24 exit, rush-hour traffic often stacks up on I-95.

"You have to pay close attention every second, especially at rush hour," Richmond said. "It's a real challenge getting off 95, where drivers do all kinds of crazy things to get ahead of the stacking cars."

The project includes improvements to a 1.5-mile segment of I-95 at the Route 24 ramps and widening of the Route 24 bridge over I-95.

As the work progresses, lanes will be closed, but not during peak hours, officials said.

Once the bridge over Route 924 is completed, only traffic turning at the intersection will stop at the signal. On the east side of Route 24, Route 924 is also known as Emmorton Road. On the west, it is Tollgate Road. Both sides of the road lead to large shopping complexes.

"People can expect all new traffic patterns and ramps with additional lanes so more vehicles can get through without stacking," said Bill Boston, a design consultant for the project.

The project will add capacity that is designed to reduce congestion and improve safety, officials said.

"All construction involves a pain period, and we do what we can to get through it," said Patricia Fiedler, who coordinates Harford's ride-share program.

"The idea is to make it the least painful as possible. I feel lucky that I don't have to drive through it every day."

The project could spur increases in the county's car- and van-pools, she said.

All details about the project, including its design and construction schedule, are available by clicking on capital projects at mdtransportationauthority.com or callers can get updates at 1-877-368-1141.

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