By Hannah Marszalek
Anyone who’s navigated through College Park over the past many months is well aware of construction on major thoroughfares. Two projects that aim to improve travel in the city are the overhaul of Route 1, which is currently underway, and the addition of protected bike lanes on Rhode Island Avenue, which is slated to begin later this year.
The Route 1 revitalization project will upgrade the 1.4 mile stretch between College Avenue and University Avenue (MD 193). The initiative was announced in June 2015 as part of the Hogan Administration’s $1.97 billion infrastructure investment. According to a May 2020 press release from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA), the project will cost $29 million. Construction began in May 2020 and is slated for completion in late summer 2023.
This stretch of Route 1 is a five-lane, undivided roadway with an intermittent shared middle turn lane, no shoulders and discontinuous sidewalks. Once the upgrades are complete, Route 1 will have two through lanes in each direction, and every intersection will have a dedicated center lane for drivers turning against traffic. The plan also includes a bicycle lane on each side of the road and a raised median, according to MDOT. ADA-compliant sidewalks will be installed, along with landscaping, improved signage and lighting. Upgrades will also address stormwater management.
Although construction began during the pandemic, crews have been making steady progress.
“While the University of Maryland campus had remote learning, MDOT SHA crews were able to work without impacting students, faculty, staff and the traveling public, which allowed us to remain on schedule,” Shanteé Felix, MDOT’s assistant media relations manager, wrote in an email. She noted that supply chain issues related to the pandemic did lead to escalating costs, however.
MDOT conducted reviews to determine the project’s potential environmental impacts, and the initiative addresses all related issues, including erosion, stormwater runoff, and wetlands and waterways protection. According to Felix, MDOT’s efforts comply with National Environmental Policy Act regulations.
The Rhode Island Avenue Protected Bike Lane project is slated for construction, as well. The project launched in 2018, when the city received a Maryland Department of Transportation bikeways grant.
After receiving community input during multiple city council meetings, the firm undertaking this project, RK&K Engineering Consultants, has completed a final design, which the city council has approved, according to Ryna Quiñones, the city’s communications and event manager. Quiñones also said that the transfer of Rhode Island Avenue from county to city jurisdiction caused a delay, but the project is now back on track
Quiñones stated that the first phase of the project, which is due to start this summer, will see bicycle lanes installed between Muskogee Street and Greenbelt Road.
“The project was prompted by a need to improve existing striped shoulders used for bike lanes and provide more protection for bicycle users,” Quiñones wrote in an email. “It will provide a safer road overall for all users.”