Transportation officials broke ground on a project in Howard County Thursday they say will alleviate a major bottleneck for commuters.
Elected leaders and State Highway Administration personnel announced the widening of US Route 29 in a ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday.
"This project will mean a better quality of life for Howard County, the Baltimore region and all of Maryland," Howard County Executive Ulman said. "It means we can be more productive in our careers. It means we can get to our kids' practices and games on time. It means more quality time for families."
The work will take place on three miles of the highway, north of MD Route 32 to south of MD Route 175 on Route 29. What is currently a two-lane highway will be broadened to three lanes to alleviate backups that officials said occur due to the thousands of drivers on this stretch of road during rush hour.
Construction is expected to be completed in 2016, Ulman said.
The project was first approved in 1987 but was not funded until the gas tax in 2013 provided money to support it, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Safety improvements will also be made to a one-mile section of Route 32, an area Ulman said was a top priority because of traffic fatalities on the road.
Both projects are primarily funded through the Maryland Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013, according to officials.
"Due to our location in central Maryland, Howard County plays a critical role in movement throughout the state,” Delegate Guy Guzzone said. "This is the kind of investment that will support both businesses and commuters."
Among those in attendance at Thursday's event were Ulman, Guzzone, Maryland Transportation Secretary James Smith Jr., Sens. Edward Kasemeyer and James Robey, Howard County Council Vice Chair Courtney Watson, State Highway Administrator Melinda B. Peters and State Highway District Engineer for Howard, Carroll and Frederick counties David Coyne.