WASHINGTON — Beach traffic at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge has been a breeze compared to the trek through the long-term work zone on Maryland Route 404 this summer.
The widening of Route 404 from a two-lane to a four-lane highway between U.S. 50 and Denton, Maryland, is an 11.3-mile overhaul. Because summer traffic is heaviest on weekends, when many travelers bound for the Delaware beaches use the highway, crews are only scheduled to work on the road from noon Monday to noon Friday.
Maryland State Highway Administrator Greg Slater said that steady progress is being made and over the next few months, the roadbed and asphalt base will be put in place. Until then and for the rest of the summer, flagging and lane-shifts will force drivers to weave between old and new highway sections.
“Anybody that drives through there now sees a project that is in full swing, working toward opening up by Thanksgiving this year. Most of the bridge work is really complete. We just finished pouring the deck on the extension of the (Route) 404 bridge above Norwich Creek,” Slater said.
The widening project will add shoulders and eliminate a series of dangerous turns at side streets, driveways and access roads. The upgrades will transform Route 404 from a quiet, country road into more of a controlled-access highway that’s better equipped for a mix of local and through traffic.
Between 2005 and 2014, 402 crashes and 12 fatalities occurred on Route 404, according to the highway administration.
“The severity of the collisions that we were seeing on this roadway were pretty horrific. The new roadway will not only give you that extra capacity to help manage traffic, but it will also have that grass median in between to separate the opposite flows of traffic,” Slater said.
The widening of the road will also allow for more efficient hurricane evacuations, Slater said.
“We have a record investment in construction right now — nearly $4 billion in active construction across the state — and (Route) 404 is just one example of a project that we’re doing in new and different ways … where folks can expect us to get that done in one construction season. We’re trying to minimize the disruption to our traveling public and really only impact only one summer of travel on the Eastern Shore.”
During the summer months, roughly 23,000 vehicles travel Route 404 every day.
See a map of the project below: