The State Highway Administration is developing a plan to enhance the major construction underway on Route 50 in Anne Arundel County with what officials say is the administration's largest single planting and landscaping contract.

The plan is also the first in Maryland to be designed in conjunction with a task force of local citizens that is working to mitigate what environmental groups and some residents consider a terrible loss of natural woodland.

Judith Wiegel has felt that loss keenly. When clearing began in March 1988, Wiegel noticed a small backhoe one morning near her home at Rowe Boulevard and Ridgeley Road but didn't give it much thought until she returned from work to find that most of the trees that served as a buffer between her yard and the highway had vanished.

"This was a very quiet little neighborhood. One day it was all wooded and the next day {the woods were} gone," said Wiegel. "People were truly, truly shocked."

Wiegel telephoned state Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad (D-Anne Arundel), an environmental supporter who sponsored the law requiring state agencies and state-funded projects to minimize tree clearing and replace destroyed trees on a one-to-one basis. Winegrad has said that a major problem with the Chesapeake Bay is massive forest removal that disrupts the biological cycle.

"I've been concerned for a long time about the State Highway Administration," said Winegrad in a telephone interview. "We've been butting heads over their stripping all the trees out and putting concrete down, which is hurting our rivers."

During his conversation with Wiegel, Winegrad said he was in the process of setting up a committee that would work with the highway administration on reforestation of the 3 1/2-mile stretch of Route 50 between Interstate 97 and the Severn River.

The highway has been upgraded to an interstate, qualifying it for federal funds, and it is being expanded from four lanes to six, and eight lanes in some places. Two interchanges are being added at Patuxent Boulevard and I-97. Construction costs are estimated at $75 million to $80 million.

The task force, of which Wiegel is a member, resulted from a meeting of Winegrad and highway officials in February 1989. A smaller steering committee was then selected to work with the State Highway Administration and the consulting landscape design firm of Stepheson & Good.

"We felt that it would be to our advantage to involve local citizens in the solution," said Charles Adams, a steering committee member and chief of the highway Landscape Architecture Division. "We wanted to develop a project that would have local support, take into account what locals thought was needed and encourage individuals to volunteer their labor to become part of the solution."

Landscaping will be emphasized at five interchanges along Route 50, the largest part of the project at Rowe Boulevard. Additional work will take place on Patuxent Boulevard between Route 50 and Route 2 and on Rowe Boulevard to Weems Creek, a small stretch serving as a gateway to Annapolis.

Officials say the $1 million landscaping budget is more than twice the expense of its next costliest landscaping project.

Approximately 195 acres of trees will replace those removed. Fifty-four acres -- about 600 to 700 trees -- will be hardwood and evergreens, allowed to grow wild and develop back into woodland. Others will screen residential areas.

Volunteers for planting should contact Adams at 333-8063.