Hundreds Get Look At Rte. 301 Options

During a workshop, Karla Costello shows John Sodero how a plan could bring a bypass near her White Plains home.
During a workshop, Karla Costello shows John Sodero how a plan could bring a bypass near her White Plains home. (By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)
By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 25, 2007

Guy Latimer went to a middle school in Brandywine on Thursday night to check out a map.

Not just any map. Latimer went straight to the giant aerial display of a proposed western bypass to Route 301 in Charles County. The 71-year-old looked for his house and found it -- and that's the bad news.

The highway would run right by his 50-acre corn and livestock farm in a rural area west of Waldorf.

"I wouldn't like it at all," Latimer said.

The western bypass is one of several options designed to alleviate traffic congestion on Route 301 that the Maryland State Highway Administration presented to residents in a series of public workshops last week. The workshops attracted crowds in the hundreds.

Federal, state and local government officials are considering three basic options: a new highway bypassing Waldorf's commercial and population center to the west, a highway bypassing it to the east, or a major upgrade of Route 301 along its current course, which runs through the heart of Waldorf.

Steve Hawtof, the project's manager at the highway administration, said he has been pleased with residents' input.

"If you're a property owner, you just want to know what's going on," he said. "This is a big project."

Officials have discussed improvements to the Route 301 corridor since the 1980s, but proposals have been mired in delays. The highway administration is in the planning phase under a $4.7 million grant that extends through 2009. State officials hope to select an option this year and could begin obtaining location and design approval in 2009.

Then it would be a matter of obtaining state and federal funding, and officials warn that construction could take up to five years.

Meanwhile, traffic continues to build on the corridor, Southern Maryland's most heavily trafficked commuter road. Daily traffic at some points along the road is projected to increase by about 50 percent between 2004 and 2030, according to the highway administration. The average number of daily trips across the Prince George's-Charles line on Route 301 is expected to grow from 82,600 vehicles in 2004 to 112,800 by 2030.

Garland Proctor, 73, who lives in Cedarville, two miles from the highway, said traffic is getting out of control.

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