A contractor working with the Maryland State Highway Administration will assess the bat population in the area near the planned I-270 interchange at Watkins Mill Road. The survey will begin tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 12 through Friday, Aug. 21 from noon to 3:00 am each evening.
The new interchange will to 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 directions to go either east on Watkins Mill Road to Rt. 355 or west to Clopper Road.
The contractors, Harrisburg, Pa.-based Skelly and Loy, Inc. will be recording the presence of bats and identify the species as required by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Skelly and Loy also has offices in Mauganville and Hunt Valley, Md. The bat survey crew will carry identification and will be using field vehicles marked with a “Skelly and Loy” logo as well as a windshield sign describing their activity. Affected property owners were notified of the project by mail.
The interchange 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.
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 total cost for the 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 that will cost between $113 million and $115 million.”
Once completed it will greatly change the way many Germantown residents access and egress I-270 that will alter and hopefully alleviate some congestion on the roads, such as Germantown Road and Middlebrook Road, in the heart of Germantown.
Top; A hibernated Indiana Bat, one of the ten species of bats which are indigenous to Maryland. Photo by Ann Froschauer/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Next: MHA map of the proposed area of the interchange connecting Watkins Mill Road and Clopper Road over I-270 with exits and entrances in both directions.