WASHINGTON — There’s some good news this Monday for commuters along U.S. Route 50 east of Annapolis, Maryland.
The eastbound lanes of Route 50 over the Severn River expanded from three lanes to four with Gov. Larry Hogan holding a ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the occasion.
The expansion was finished a month ahead of schedule.
The completion of the construction project will reduce congestion for hundreds of thousands of Anne Arundel County residents and visitors who travel over the Severn River Bridge in Annapolis each year, officials said.
The governor was joined by Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, House Speaker Mike Busch, House Minority Leader Nic Kipke and other local elected officials for the announcement.
“For far too long, this stretch of Route 50 has been a serious bottleneck that was a constant headache for many Marylanders, as well as commuters and vacationers trying to reach the Eastern Shore,” Hogan said. “I am pleased that with the opening today, we have successfully completed this project a full month ahead of schedule, and just in time for summer. Motorists will now enjoy a safer, more efficient ride through Annapolis and to the Eastern Shore.”
The Severn River bridge has become the biggest traffic bottleneck along Route 50 for anyone heading into Arnold and beyond to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
The project shifted the existing median barrier and re-striped the lanes to provide seven through-travel lanes. That includes four lanes on eastbound U.S. 50 and three lanes on westbound U.S. 50, from Rowe Boulevard across the Severn River to the MD 2/MD 450 interchange.
The state reduced the width of each lane of traffic on the bridge from 12 feet to 11 feet, and then reduced the space between the eastbound and westbound spans of the bridge.
The fourth lane will now connect the on-ramp from Rowe Boulevard to the exit for Maryland Route 2 on the other side of the bridge.
The fourth lane was originally scheduled for completion by Memorial Day weekend.
“Part of a $3.7 billion construction program statewide, the Severn River Bridge project represents our dedicated approach to delivering solutions and keeping Maryland open for business,” said Greg Slater, the administrator of the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration. “It is important to note that the collaboration and cooperation with our contractor allowed us to deliver this fourth lane early and get people over the bridge safely and with less delay.”
The average daily traffic on this section of U.S. 50 is 126,000 vehicles per day, with that number ballooning to more than 145,000 on a typical summer Friday, according to MDOT. By 2040, the daily average is expected to be 160,000 vehicles per day and again balloon to more than 186,000 on a summer Friday, MDOT said.
See a live traffic feed of the newly opened lane.