Route 15 Undergoing Major Changes In the Next Few Years
by Michael Tauriello
Route 15 is always evolving so that commuters in Frederick can get around more easily and smoothly during the morning and evening rushes.
The most recent construction added a new lane coming into the Walkersville/Libertytown exit, and it has made things change for the better.
But in July of 2015, more major construction began on a new project at Monocacy Boulevard and Christopher’s Crossing. The project adds a new interchange to replace the existing intersection at US 15 and Monocacy Boulevard.
Mark Crampton, MDSHA District 7 Engineer, broke the plan down for this project. “The main focus for this project is to remove the at grade crossings of US 15 at Monocacy Boulevard. When US 15 was first built, the areas were still largely rural and traffic was much lighter. Since the original lanes of US15 were built some 50 plus years ago, as traffic has increased, so have accidents. Separating this crossing traffic will eliminate these accidents occurring between US 15 and the crossing traffic.”
The new ramps will make a smoother merge for drivers traveling from Christopher’s Crossing and Monocacy Blvd. Another benefit this project is the inclusion of a new hiker/biker lane along these two roads.
Crampton explained another benefit drivers will experience from this project. “If you go out to US 15 today, you will see that traffic needs to cross US 15 and oftentime sits for long periods trying to cross US 15. By having the bridge across US 15, traffic will quickly and safely use the new Monocacy Boulevard to get from one side of US 15 to the other.” Crampton continued, “Often times, roads open access to the surrounding parcels of land so development near the interchange may occur which will help bring jobs to the area and will help to support the state and local economy with jobs created.”
Rebecca Lichtenstein of the MDSHA Highway Design Division believes that one of the major benefits is “To address safety deficiencies in the vicinity of the project by separating the traffic on Monocacy Blvd. and Christopher’s Crossing from US 15 and by closing Hayward Rd. at US 15. This will reduce the number of places where vehicles may conflict with each other along US 15.”
Another benefit that this project proposes, according to Lichtenstein is to, “Provide connections for current and future development traffic in the area. Currently, Christopher’s Crossing does not connect directly with US 15 or Monocacy Blvd. The project will make that connection through the interchange as well as connecting Thomas Johnson Dr. with Christopher’s Crossing.”
Junior Quinn Cavanaugh has high hopes for this project and how it will benefit drivers, saying, “The on and off ramps around here were absolutely abysmal to begin with, and I am very hopeful that extending these on and off ramps will streamline traffic and reduce congestion during rush hour.”
With major construction projects such as this, drivers will always expect some delays. Crampton thinks it won’t be that much of a hassle. Crampton said, “The biggest delays will come during two parts of construction. The first will be when the steel girders that support the bridge over US 15 are placed by cranes. During that operation US 15 will be closed for short periods to allow the cranes to pick up and set the beams. The other big impact is when the roadways are paved. In that portion of work, lanes on US 15 will be closed while the asphalt is placed.” Crampton seemed confident, stating that “The good thing is we give plenty of notice through either media announcements and we also do these in the middle of the night when traffic is lightest.”
As for downsides to the new interchange? Crampton doesn’t see anything. “Hopefully there will not be a downside to the project. With a nice smooth road to ride on and with a nice new bridge, hopefully the traveling public will have a nice, safe reliable project for years to come.”
The project is set to cost approximately $2.3 million, and is likely to be finished in early 2018, according to the MDSHA website.