Md. 97 bypass a win-win for small Montgomery County town

BROOKEVILLE, Md. — The town of Brookeville has been around for more than 200 years, and the community is worried that all the commuter traffic on Md. 97, Georgia Avenue, will ruin its historic charm.

But the Maryland State Highway Administration is moving fast on a Md. 97 bypass that would take traffic out of Brookeville and give commuters a potentially quicker trip through the stretch north of the Intercounty Connector.

“This will help keep traffic flowing while still keeping the greatness of Brookeville, the quaintness, there.  The whole point of the Brookeville bypass is to bypass historic Brookeville.  When you have thousands and thousands of cars coming through a small town, it adds to traffic and adds concerns about children running across the street,” says Del. Craig Zucker.

State Sen. Karen Montgomery lives in Brookeville, right along Md. 97.  She agrees that it makes life a lot more difficult in a place that is supposed to have a small-town charm.

“I cannot get out of my driveway unless I push my way out.  The traffic is bumper-to-bumper coming from the east, the west and coming from the north,” says Montgomery. “There are brick houses where the mortar is being shaken out from between the old bricks.  The other houses are covered with black soot all the time.  One hesitates to sit on one’s porch because of all the noise. It is wearing on the town.”

Plans call for the bypass to begin near the Longwood Community Recreation Center, loop around the town to the west and reconnect with Georgia Avenue beyond the town.  It will include two roundabouts on either end to keep people from speeding along the new roadway when it is complete.

One concern is the environmental impact. The project calls for chopping down trees in a wooded forest; it will also affect streams in the area.  But the alternative had the least environmental impact of all the options that were on the table.

“What is being done will mitigate, as much as possible. pollution into the stream.  I think it will mitigate it a lot,” says Montgomery.

The total project will cost $30 million. Construction is due to begin next summer, and it will take at least two years to complete.

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