Leaders promise to break U.S. 29 bottleneck

COLUMBIA, Md. — Promising “to break the bottleneck along northbound U.S. 29,” leaders broke ground on a project to widen a stretch of the roadway notorious for congestion.

“Every evening rush hour turns this roadway behind us into a parking lot,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary Jim Smith, who was among those who spoke before the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday.

The nearly $33 million dollar widening project will add a third lane to the northbound side of the highway, between Seneca Drive and Md. 175. There are already three lanes on the southbound side.

Construction will begin in June and is expected to take two years.

“We do ask residents and motorists for their continued patience,” said Smith.

The additional northbound lane will eventually extend to the Montgomery County border. That improvement is still in the planning phase.

Money for the project is coming from Maryland’s Transportation Infrastructure and Investment Act of 2013. As a result of that transportation bill, Maryland drivers saw a gas tax hike of about 4 cents a gallon last year, with more increases coming in 2015.

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