Construction on Route 1 near the University of Maryland is expected to continue for the next two years, according to engineers from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration. 

Since May 2020, the SHA has been working on a project to improve road conditions on Route 1, causing increased traffic near the university. The improvements include widening the lanes on a 1.4-mile section between College Avenue and University Boulevard and the creation of a planted median with turn lanes, accessible sidewalks, updated pedestrian lighting, stormwater management infrastructure and bike lanes.

The project is on budget for a cost of $50.4 million, which includes about $19.2 million in engineering, right-of-way and utility costs, according to an email from Shantee Felix, SHA’s assistant media relations manager. Its estimated completion date is late summer 2023.

Lane-widening and sidewalks between College Avenue, Regents Drive and Lakeland Road should be completed by this fall, said SHA area engineer Amy Andrews. 

Construction equipment sits on the side of the road along Route 1 on Aug. 29, 2021. (Joe Ryan/The Diamondback)

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The section from Campus Drive south should be completed later this year, and the section from Campus Drive north will undergo construction through 2023, according to an Aug. 10 email from Carlo Colella, the university’s vice president and chief administrative officer.

Andrews noted the contractors took advantage of the decreased traffic volumes last year to make headway on the project. Steps are also being taken to mitigate construction-related delays.  

Insufficient bike lanes and sidewalks, as well as unsafe turning points along this stretch of Route 1, were addressed in the design for this project, said Lindsay Bobian, a project manager with the SHA’s Highway Design Division. 

“We did try to make sure that we applied as many unique tools to address pedestrian, bicycle, motorist safety,” said SHA district engineer Erica Rigby. 

College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn believes the safety improvements to sidewalks and bike lanes along Route 1 will promote sustainable transportation by encouraging walking and biking, making the city more user-friendly and accessible.

“The continued construction will tie up traffic in the corridor over the next couple of years. The long-term benefits to the project, however, will greatly outweigh the temporary negative impacts of increased congestion during construction,” he wrote in an email. 

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And although the construction might be inconvenient, District 4 council member Maria Mackie said the changes were necessary to stabilize the Route 1 corridor and make the city more transportation-friendly. 

“I think it’s a good indication that College Park is really trying to be progressive,” she said.

When the project is completed, Rigby said engineers will continue to monitor the traffic situation and make necessary adjustments to the roads.

“We’re always monitoring the roadways across the state to determine how we can continue to improve operations and safety,” she said. 

The Route 1 widening comes amid several other major construction projects in College Park, including the Purple Line, Metro platform reconstruction, the university’s Discovery District and various apartment buildings, some of which are aimed at attracting future residents to the city.  

“It’s going to be kind of like a main street — we know that we want speeds to be low, but we do want to make sure that traffic can get through there reasonably well,” Rigby said. “As College Park becomes that hub, this roadway is better equipped to now handle that additional traffic and accessibility that people will need as they travel through this area.”