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$29 Million Route 1 Reconstruction to Start Next Week

According to the MDOT / SHA, the Route 1 construction this month on a three-year, $29 million project to improve safety and operations for motorists, bicyclist and pedestrians along US 1 (Baltimore Avenue) from College Avenue/Regents Drive to MD 193 (University Boulevard) in College Park.

This 1.4-mile project also supports revitalization and traffic relief along this highly traveled stretch of US 1. Construction is scheduled to begin after Memorial Day.

This project will not only produce a safer, more attractive and less congested US 1, but will spur economic development and recovery in one of the region’s most important corridors, according to Gov. Hogan.

Planned improvements include:
• widening lanes to provide two lanes in each direction and auxiliary lanes that transition into turn lanes and adding a raised median,
• adding intersection lighting,
• roadway resurfacing and landscaping,
• adding a five-foot wide bicycle lane on each side of US 1,
• improving sidewalks and crosswalk ramps to Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliance,
• upgrading drainage and stormwater management facilities and relocating utilities, and
• adding signage and pavement markings.

According to MDOT, this project incorporates MDOT SHA’s innovative Context Driven design elements, such as continental crosswalks and dedicated bicycle lanes, to help enhance safety for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

This project was first announced in June 2015 as part of the Hogan’s Administration’s $1.97 billion investment in roads and timber bridges. Carrying more than 38,000 vehicles per day, US 1 is a major north-south artery located in the City of College Park in Prince George’s County and the gateway to the University of Maryland.

When completed and tied together with the Purple Line rail system that will come through the University of Maryland campus, College Park will be a model for Maryland’s vision for safe and efficient multi-modal access and mobility – according to the MDOT.

The project will be divided into two phases. Phase One includes work in the southern section – from College Avenue to Lakeland Road. Phase Two will take place in the northern section – from Lakeland Road to MD 193. Each phase is expected to last approximately 18 months.

During construction, temporary single- or double-lane closures may be in effect 24/7 on US 1 and on MD 193. Additional lane closures and work times may be needed to expedite work and keep the project on schedule. Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout the project limits.

The project was initially projected to take four years to complete, but MDOT SHA worked with local residents, officials, and other stakeholders and have trimmed that schedule by a year. Construction is now estimated to be complete by the end of 2023.

To view an online presentation with an overview of the project and its construction schedule, click HERE.

In recent months MDOT SHA crews have prepared for the start of construction by completing work to relocate utilities in the area – an example of the important work accomplished during Maryland’s COVID-19 State of Emergency. This work, aided in part by the lower traffic volumes during the state of emergency, has set the stage for construction to begin in earnest on a project that will create job and economic development opportunities as Maryland emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

MDOT SHA is asking drivers need to stay alert, focus on the road, and look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes, and highway workers. For a list of all major MDOT SHA projects, go to roads.maryland.gov. For a look at real-time commute conditions, go to md511.maryland.gov

[Source: The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA)]

Route 1 Construction to Complete by 2023

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) has recently given us the following update about ongoing Rt 1 construction (between College Ave and MD193) and what to expect in the days ahead.

The 1.4-mile project will support current and future development and improve traffic operations and safety for vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians along US 1. Progress permitting, all work and construction clean up should be complete by year-end 2023.

The SHA considers US 1 as a major north-south artery and the gateway to the University of Maryland – College Park campus, which is located within the project work limits between College Avenue/Regents Drive and Paint Branch Parkway/Campus Drive.

Pedestrian and bicycle traffic are very heavy along the corridor, especially in the vicinity of campus.

Currently, US 1 between College Avenue and Lakeland Road is a four-lane divided roadway, with a raised median and no shoulders. It is lined with fields, parking lots, and office buildings. US 1 between Lakeland Road and MD 193 is a five-lane undivided roadway with a double left-turn lane movement and no shoulders. The roadway is lined with businesses and residential neighborhoods. The existing sidewalk along US 1 is not continuous.

As part of the construction for this project, US 1 will be widened to provide a four-lane roadway (with 11-foot wide through lanes) with auxiliary lanes (with 10-foot wide turn lanes), 5-foot wide bicycle lanes, and a median with varying widths between 2 feet and 16 feet. Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant sidewalk will be provided along both sides of US 1 throughout the project limits.

Other improvements include resurfacing, landscaping, drainage system upgrades, stormwater management facilities, new signage and pavement markings, pedestrian lighting, intersection lighting and utility relocation work.

Currently, electricity and gas infrastructure utility relocation work is simultaneously taking place on US 1 within the project limits.

Drivers can expect lane closures in active work zones on the following days and times (weather permitting):

Gas Utility Work (Northbound and Southbound US 1)

•Weekdays, 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and up to 24 hours per day on Saturday and Sunday

Electricity Utility Work

•Northbound—Weekdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

•Southbound—Weekdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Once non-utility related construction work begins—and throughout the entire lifetime of the project—intermittent lane closures are possible within the project limits weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and Sundays through Thursdays between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Additional lane closures and work times may be needed to expedite all phases of work and keep the project on schedule.

The SHA gave us the following timeline:

Utility Relocation Work…In Progress

Project Advertisement Date..Summer 2019

Notice to Proceed Issued…..Fall 2019

Project Completion……..Year End 2023

(Source: The State Highway Administration)

 

 

Status Update on SHA Baltimore Avenue Sidewalk Project in North College Park

For many years, the City Council and staff have discussed with the State Highway Administration (SHA) improvements to the sidewalk connectivity along Baltimore Avenue. This specific project (University Blvd. to I-495) was most recently presented by SHA to the City Council on July 8, 2014 and again on September 2, 2014.

The project will be funded through the SHA Sidewalk Retrofit program, and will repair and/or install sidewalks and ADA-accessible ramps along both sides of Baltimore Avenue between University Blvd and I-495. Crosswalks will be striped or re-striped where needed. The project is estimated to cost SHA approximately $1.2 million. The SHA project manager has informed the City that the project is funded under the area-wide sidewalk contract.

The City Council authorized correspondence with SHA on October 7, 2014 stating that the City would accept maintenance of a retaining wall at Erie Street that is required for the installation of a sidewalk. The SHA Sidewalk Retrofit project does not usually cover the cost of additional infrastructure such as retaining walls, and this issue had delayed progress on the project. The solution was to have SHA pay for the construction of the retaining wall, and once it was completed, the City would take over ownership and be responsible for any maintenance costs.

Following that correspondence, SHA staff has proceeded with the design of the retaining wall and initiated communication with adjoining property owners to obtain “Right of Entry” permission necessary for the sidewalk construction. SHA needs approximately 160 agreements, and has requested the assistance of the City Engineer to obtain some of these agreements. As of December 1, 2015, SHA indicated that they have received about 130 agreements.

The tentative construction start date is summer 2016, pending the receipt of the remaining Right of Entry permits. The construction will take approximately six to seven months. SHA has made a second mailing of the Right-of-Entry agreement to those property owners that have not responded. SHA and the City Engineer have met with property owners to explain the project and the need for the construction crews to temporarily enter the owner’s property for the construction of the sidewalk. A second meeting is planned for January with those property owners who have not responded to the second mailing.
[Source, SHA, City staff]

Beltway – Route 1 Intersection Set for Major Improvements

beltway-edgewood-interchange

Great news! The SHA has been studying the interchange at Route 1 and Edgewood road, in order to improve safety at this intersection. Here is the latest concept plan I got from the SHA. Highlights of the improvement include:

1. Three out-bound lanes from Edgewood to Route 1 (currently there are two lanes). The SHA has been in touch with the owner of the property (where the old house was demolished recently), for the right-of way acquisition along Edgewood Road.
2. Two in-bound lanes to Edgewood from Route 1 and I-495 in-bound ramp (currently there is one lane)
3. Elimination of the current ramp going to the internal loop from north bound Route 1.A new ramp is planned, north of the existing one. The eastbound ramp pavement will be removed as part of this project.
4. Elimination of the current ramp coming from the internal loop to Route 1 north. There will be a new two lanes added to the existing ramp going to Route 1 south.

As far as the project’s status goes, topographic survey is anticipated to be completed by the end of next month. At this time, the SHA will have a preliminary concept for this project, however the alignment is not set due to delays in survey. After the project is funded, construction is estimated to start in Spring 2019.

The project will be added to the Project Life Cycle section of SHA’s website and may be viewed here: http://apps.roads.maryland.gov/WebProjectLifeCycle/ProjectHome.aspx?d=36.

Our City staff has been involved in the current concept phase. Additionally, I’ve asked the project manger to come to a future Council worksession, so that we can discuss the project in more details.

Please let us know if you have further questions.

Council Asks SHA to Address Concerns about Rt 1 Reconstruction

SHA presented a summary of the current plans of Route 1 reconstruction design during the August 5, 2015 Worksession. City, County, and University staff have urged SHA to consider some additional changes to create an appropriate landscape buffer for pedestrians and improved safety for cyclists. In the past, SHA has met with City, County, and University officials to review the plans in detail several times since June 2015. These meetings have resulted in a better understanding of some of the design challenges, as well as improvements to the intersection designs, pedestrian crosswalks, and access management from businesses.

At last night’s Council meeting, the City Council expressed its concerns with the planned pedestrian areas and the absence of a raised barrier for the bicycle lanes.

Council is requested to authorize City staff to work with the County, University of Maryland, elected officials, and SHA, as well as the business and property owners along Baltimore Avenue, to create an appropriate buffered pedestrian zone with adequate sidewalks, improved access management onto Baltimore Avenue, the appropriate location of utilities, and improved buffers for bicyclists.

These changes would further the project purpose (as stated in the SHA presentation), which is: To improve safety for vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians that travel along the corridor, manage access, and provide aesthetic improvements to establish US 1 as a gateway to the City of College Park and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD-CP).

An important area of concern is best shown by the image from the August 5, 2015 SHA presentation, showing the landscaped buffer and sidewalk adjacent to the Varsity and the View. These developments were required to give SHA a 20-foot easement to create the appropriate pedestrian facilities (new development on the east side is also required to give a 20-foot easement). The landscaped buffer includes trees that can provide shade for pedestrians, the pedestrian lighting, and the utility poles. Across the street, the existing sidewalk is four-feet wide and immediately adjacent to the curb.

The current SHA plan for this section of Baltimore Avenue is shown below. The buffer in front of the Varsity and the View is between two and three feet wide, too narrow for trees and too close to the curb for pedestrian lights and utility poles. The sidewalk is only five-feet wide. On the east side, a five-foot wide sidewalk is planned immediately against the curb, similar to the current situation (although a bike lane will be adjacent to the curb). A five-foot sidewalk is adequate for two pedestrians to pass each other without one person needing to step aside.

City, County, and University staff have expressed to SHA the importance for this area and others to have a safety and landscaped buffer between the curb and the sidewalk, and to ensure the sidewalk width is appropriate for the use. Similar concerns have been expressed regarding the current design for no buffer between the sidewalk and road, and only a five-foot sidewalk near Jenkins Garage, Rita’s, and Comfort Inn, and minimal buffers elsewhere.

Rt. 1 Undergrounding Utilities Off-table, for Now

Representatives from the SHA came to last week’s Council meeting and gave an update on the reconstruction project of Rt 1 from College Avenue to Rt 193.

Representatives told us that the undergrounding of utilities is off the table, at least for now, mainly because there is no funding available at this time. The issue may still come back if the project is awarded with the TIGER grant next year.

Other highlights of the project’s status include:

  • Wider buffered sidewalk and bike lanes on both sides of Rt1.
  • Landscaping (trees at 30 ft spacing) on both sides at some locations, on median at other locations (such as in front of Views).
  • SHA will need to acquire part of some properties. The Tuxedo shop will be most likely affected.
  • Schedule: By 2019, ROW property acquisition is expected to be completed. It will then take about 1-2 years for utility relocation and another 2-4 years for actual construction. Thus the entire construction will end some time between 2022 and 2025.
  • The SHA has a contact for the redevelopment of Rt 1 in north College Park (phase 2 and 3), however funding for design is not available yet. In the mean time they’ve a separate project to build ADA compliant sidewalks on both sides of Rt1 in north College Park. Design has been completed and ROW acquisition process has started.

Please see  here the SHA presentation slides

Route 1 Undergrounding Project May Not Happen

Based on what we’re learning from the SHA, the undergrounding utilities project on Route 1 may not happen.

The State Highway Administration (SHA) has recently asked for a commitment from the City by June 8 to fully fund the underground utility relocation (minus the SHA estimated cost of aerial relocation) associated with the reconstruction of US 1 from Lakeland Road to MD 430 (Greenbelt Road).

Unfortunately the current estimated cost is huge ($14,973,000) and the City cannot afford such a huge cost alone at this time.

Here is a little background – the City signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SHA on August 11, 2014. The MOU states that the City shall have the right to terminate the design of the undergrounding anytime and provide SHA with a 2-week notice to do so with no further obligations to SHA after paying SHA for the completed or initiated design prior to termination. SHA shall provide the City with undergrounding design plans up to the point of termination.

The MOU requires SHA to provide the City with 5 sets of design plans and estimates for review and comment at the preliminary investigation stage, the final review stage, the plans, specifications and estimate phase and the constructability review stage. There were no timetables or performance schedules stated in the MOU.

On February 25, 2015, the City received 30% design plans and requested a meeting with SHA to review them. This meeting was held on March 31, 2015. At that time, the City was informed that the utility companies were not fully on board with their resources to design for both aerial and underground relocations because the project wasn’t funded for construction and they typically would not design for both. On May 1, 2015, at the City’s request an updated utility undergrounding estimate was provided.

To date, the SHA has billed the City for $51,273 of the total $300,000 design cost, and according to our staff, the ultimate design cost will go up to $150,000.

The Council will ask the SHA to come to one of our future worksessions and update us about the entire project.

SHA Presents Route 1 Development Plan

Typical section

Typical section

Representatives from the State Highway Administration came to the City Council last Tuesday night to give an update on the design work on Route 1 between College Avenue and MD 193.

Here are the highlights of that presentation on what the SHA plans to make the following changes:

  • Roadway widening along US 1
  • Two 11-foot travel lanes
  • 5-foot bike lane, including gutter pan in each direction
  • The existing five-lane section between Lakeland Road and MD 193 will be converted to a 4-lane section with a raised landscaped median, varying in width 6 – 16 feet.
  • Other improvements include pavement resurfacing, landscaping, drainage system upgrades, stormwater management facilities, signage and pavement markings, intersection lighting and associated utility relocations.
  • All sidewalks, pedestrian ramps, driveway entrances and bicycle facilities will be ADA-compliant.

The SHA is researching existing Access Permits to a State Roadway for several businesses with more than one access point to US 1. The process of consolidating access points will involve meeting with property owners to discuss proposed improvements.

SHA will also soon start working on the undergrounding work located along US 1 – Lakeland Road to MD 430. It was funded for design – $300,000, but not funded for construction. It may cause overall delay in project delivery. SHA thinks it will be also challenging in the maintenance of traffic set-up.

Here is the tentative project schedule

  • Final Review (90% design) – Sept. 2014
  • Newsletters Sent – Nov. 2014
  • Undergrounding Design Start – Nov. 2014
  • ROW Acquisition Start – Nov./Dec. 2014
  • Progress Meeting – Dec. 2014
  • Environmental Re-evaluation – Jan. 2015
  • Production Ad – Nov. 2016

One More Hollywood Eyesore Slated for Demolition

The “Spooky” house to get demolished soon

The much discussed abandoned property (aka “Spooky House”) at the north east corner of Route 1 and Edgewood Rd is expected to be demolished soon.

The property has been an eyesore for a long time and has only contributed to give a negative impression of our neighborhood. We hope once the demolition is completed, the site will help attract a quality development / business there, preferably benefiting City residents. We will get the residents involved once any such project comes before us.

The owner of the property has agreed to share the demolition cost with the City (through a State grant). This was not the case with the other 2 demolition projects on Route 1, where the City took up the entire cost. The total cost of the project is around $32,000, about $18,000 of that will come from the State grant. The residential demolition project is expected to be finished by the middle of next month.

Unfortunately, there isn’t anything inside the building that is valuable for someone to reuse. The inside of the house is is a very dangerous condition for anyone to go.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

SHA Plans to Improve Rt 1 Pedestrian Safety At I-495 Ramp

Recently a north College Park resident and high school student came to the NCPCA meeting and suggested to make some improvements at the I-495 ramp near the Edgewood Road and Route 1 intersection.

The SHA engineer studied the intersection further and made the following changes.

(1) SHA review confirmed that pedestrians currently do not have adequate time to cross the south leg of US 1 at Edgewood Road.  As a result, we have increased the crossing time to better suit pedestrians.  Please note that SHA uses 3.5 ft/sec of walking speed, as recommended by the nationally-accepted Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), to determine the pedestrian crossing time at signals.

(2) SHA will consider the idea of in-pavement lights, especially with the solar-powered LEDs.  SHA previously approved new traffic control device products for use on State roadways.   In the past, we have piloted in-pavement lights to illuminate a crosswalk at MD 500 (Queens Chapel Road) and Northwest Branch Trail crossing.  However, the pilot project failed due to maintenance issues.  Specifically, water leaked into the devices and caused them to malfunction.  Since then SHA has not used any in-pavement lights to illuminate crosswalks or pedestrian paths.

(3) SHA will install pedestrian signals for the crosswalk across the Ramp from I-495 Inner Loop (IL) on to US 1, lighting at both crosswalks at the intersection and a sidewalk connection between the Ramp crosswalk and the crosswalk on the south leg of US 1.  SHA initiated design efforts to implement these improvements.  The design and construction of these improvements will take more than a year to complete.

SHA also reviewed the left-turns from the off-ramp from I-495 IL on to US 1.  Motorists were observed to be navigating this movement appropriately, and have adequate green time to turn left on to Edgewood Road.  The off-ramp traffic moves independently of all other movements at this intersection.  As a result, they do not recommend any additional changes for this off-ramp movement at this time.

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