Germantown residents may see a significant change in their commute into the District or lower Montgomery County in a few years, as the Maryland State Highway Administration prepares to begin construction on a new I-270 interchange.
While the new interchange will not be Germantown, it will be close enough to change the way many Germantown residents enter and exit I-270.
The new interchange will be built at Watkins Mill Road in Gaithersburg, a little more than 4,000 feet north of where Quince Orchard Road crosses under I-270. It will provide both northbound and southbound entrance to I-270 and allow traffic to exit I-270 from both both directions to go either east on Watkins Mill Road to Rt. 355 or west to Clopper Road.
According to Charlie Gischlar, Public Information Officer with the Maryland State Highway Administration, “It will be a full diamond interchange, the middle will look like a diamond, which will allow a freer movement of traffic coming in and out of the interchange to either direction on Watkins Mill Road, and also from Watkins Mill to either north- or south-bound I-270.”
The project, which has been designated the “Number 1 Transportation Priority for Montgomery County,” is slated to begin construction in the spring of 2016 and the estimated completion date sometime in 2018.
“The project is currently in the engineering phase and it is totally funded for construction,” said Gischlar. “We are aiming to begin construction in the spring of 2016. The project has to go through the competitive bidding process.” He said MSHA has a Notice to Proceed in January or February 2016, but won’t start the project in the middle of winter. “When the spring construction season starts up that is when we are hoping to have it under construction.”
While the Maryland SHA website lists the “Open to Traffic” date of 2018, Gischlar pointed out that a project of this size will likely create some traffic delays during construction. “The traffic around that area is pretty tough, so we have to work around some pretty amazing traffic and it could take up to four years to build.”
“The total cost for design of the interchange was $5.3 million,” said Gischlar. “Montgomery County gave us $4.9 million toward the design of the interchange. The Federal Highway Administration provided $41 million which went toward planning and right-of-way purchase. And the Maryland SHA will pay for all the construction costs which will cost between $113 million and $115 million.” He could not give an exact construction cost because the project has not yet been put out to bid.
Once completed it will greatly change the way many Germantown residents access and egress I-270 which will alter and hopefully alleviate some congestion on the roads, such as Germantown Road and Middlebrook Road, in the heart of Germantown.
Photos Courtesy MSHA.