Update on the Rt. 197 Expansion

Dear Friends, 
     I wanted to provide you with an update on the minutes of the meeting between the City of Bowie and the State Highway Administration following their announcement to expand the remaining portion of Rt. 197 from Rt. 450 to Rt. 50.  The summary of the report is below.  SHA did hold a public meeting in September to receive public comments, however, if you were unaware of the meeting or unable to attend due to a conflict, I encourage you to share your thoughts on the expansion project with Joe Meinert, Director of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Bowie at jmeinert@cityofbowie.org and Vivian Berra-Figuereo, Project Manager for SHA for the Rt. 197 project at vberrafiguereo@sha.state.md.us

     Additional information can be found at the SHA webpage at http://apps.roads.maryland. 
     I will continue to keep you updated on any new developments as I receive them. 

Status Report - MD 197 Meeting with SHA Staff
Last week, city staff met with Ms. Vivian Berra-Figuereo, Project Manager of the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) for the MD 197 project, to provide further input on the MD 197 engineering design plans and to discuss some of the comments received since the September 16th community informational meeting. Ms. Figuereo updated staff on several design items now under consideration including:
  • SHA will attempt to reduce the intersection designs to provide a shorter distance for pedestrians to cross the side streets.
  • SHA will consider including a pedestrian-activated mid-block crosswalk at Lerner Place/Foxhill Park entrance.
  • Regarding the possible realignment of MD 197 between Tulip Grove Drive and Old Annapolis Road, SHA agreed with comments from residents to try to shift the roadway west of its currently planned location and to reduce the size of the 20 foot wide median, and Ms. Figuereo stated this appeared to be feasible.
  • Regarding the minimum median width, SHA agreed to reduce the width to the absolute minimum, where feasible, which would likely be a 6 foot wide monolithic concrete median (or 10 feet with grass and shrubs), provided the City supports this revision.
  • With respect to the placement of the bioswales, SHA concluded that these features should be located in the buffer area between the roadway and trail/sidewalk wherever possible. This will save approximately three feet by deletion of the grass strip originally envisioned between the trail/sidewalk and the curb.
  • Regarding the issue of 16 foot wide bicycle compatible lanes, SHA pointed out that the existing roadway includes paved shoulders that qualify as bicycle facilities and State law precludes designers of a new road from taking away existing, on-road facilities. The approved alternate from the project planning study included 16 foot wide bicycle compatible lanes which consist of an 11 foot wide vehicle travel lane and a five foot shoulder. To reduce the project footprint, SHA is willing to request a design waiver from the SHA Bicycle Policy and Design Guidelines to reduce the five foot wide shoulder to four feet. (A total of five feet would still be available, if the one foot wide gutter pan is counted.)
  • Regarding the proposed sidewalk along southbound MD 197, SHA stated that as long as WMATA has bus stops on MD 197, a sidewalk needs to be provided. A sidewalk is also consistent with the Master Plan and the Complete Streets policy.

The following items were also discussed: a utility corridor and the possibility of placing the overhead utilities over the bioswales; whether the bioswales might be reduced by the use of porous paving for the shared use path and sidewalk; and, the desire to continue a shared use path north of Old Annapolis Road and whether underground water quality treatment structures could be used in lieu of bioswales because of space limitations in that area. Regarding the architectural appearance of the noise walls, city staff provided several examples of noise walls on State roads where upgraded materials were used. SHA will continue to refine the design plan, and city staff will attend future meetings of the Project Team to ensure the City's position of record continues to be reflected in the project drawings.


By Authority of Friends for Geraldine Valentino-Smith, Elizabeth Ryan, Treasurer