Can it be? Can the end be near for the 20-year hassle over Route 100 -- the controversy that helped turn Elizabeth Bobo, citizen activist, into Elizabeth Bobo, county executive?
The answer: maybe.
County and state officials have a tentative agreement worked out with the last set of developers who own property along the path of the Howard County portion of Route 100, the long-delayed highway connecting Route 29 to Interstate 95 and extending into Anne Arundel County.
"The completion of the first portion, from 29 to Route 104, would be two years away if we finalize this agreement and resolve everything" this summer, said James Irvin, director of public works for Howard County.
That's a fairly big "if," considering the history of Route 100.
Bobo and many other citizen activists fought construction of the highway in the 1970s, saying it would hasten unwanted development. Since then, Bobo has become county executive and eastern Howard has grown more congested anyway. Now, the Bobo administration, reluctantly, supports construction of the highway as a means of relieving congestion.
"It's unfortunate, but it's a needed road for the county," Irvin said. "It will relax some of the pressure on roads like Routes 103, 104 and 108."
Developer James Moxley has informally agreed to an arrangement in which the state and county would give him several parcels of land adjacent to his land, Irvin said. In return, Moxley would give the state a parcel of land it needs and would construct on his property a six-lane connector to Route 100. In addition, Moxley would build an extra lane on Route 103 between the new connector, known as Long Gate Parkway, and Wheatfield development to the east.
Moxley, who is developing residential property near the Route 100 interchange, was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
Since the 1980s, the county and state have been trying to work out arrangements for the developers to construct portions of the highway. But conflict arose over what land the developers would be given in return.
The stalemate was broken when county officials agreed to build -- at a cost of $2 million -- a portion of Route 100 extending less than a mile east from Long Gate Parkway.
"That's what broke the logjam," Irvin said.
Local legislators, including state Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer (D-Howard) and Dels. Robert H. Kittleman and Robert L. Flanagan, both Howard Republicans, also helped to work out the agreement.
Irvin said he hopes the state will reimburse the county for the $2 million, possibly by ceding it land.
"When you're dealing with a lot of developers, things get very complicated," said Dennis Yoder, regional planner for the State Highway Administration.
The agreement with Moxley is one of four that the state has made along the path of Route 100 involving property transfers with developers, Yoder said.
Total cost of the construction from Route 29 to Interstate 97 in Anne Arundel County is $34.3 million, according to Yoder.
If Moxley and state and local officials complete the agreement this summer as planned, the state could begin to construct a Route 100 interchange on Route 29, just above Route 103, by next spring.
The whole project, including the Anne Arundel portion, could take six years or more, Yoder said.
However, the project might be delayed further by federal restrictions on construction in wetland areas. Plans now call for construction of a culvert at a creek called Red Hill Branch.
If the Army Corps of Engineers requires a bridge to be built across the creek, that decision would add millions to the cost of the road and delay completion for months or even years, Yoder said. There are several wetland areas along the path of the road, in both Howard and Anne Arundel counties, according to Irvin.