UMD’s proposed the connector road (also known as the “Terrapin Parkway”) would be a limited access highway connecting the I-95/495 capital beltway interchange to 193 just behind the Comcast Center. The road is expected to be four lanes, 1-1.5 miles, and will require a 160 foot right of way.
The idea has been pursued by the university for several years and, in early 2006, the proposed road received state funding for a 3rd study and further environmental documentation. Proposed alternatives would cut through the federal Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) and close to (but likely not through) residential units in the College Park Woods community – a subdivision with over 350 homes. Currently, $1 million of a full $2.5 million three-year planning study is funded. Public meetings will be a central part of the process as required by state and federal law (National Environmental Policy Act). The federal land sale necessary for this project, as it is currently being considered, would require an act of congress.
The project will face large obstacles because of its location on federal property and its large nature. These obstacles include endangered species, wetlands, historic resources, and protected parkland. Many local officials are against the project; fearing it will ultimately generate more traffic in the area and on campus, take money out of city businesses, and draw funds away from the reconstruction of Route 1. The South Farm is relatively small compared to the total size of BARC (see map above) but it contains a number of “highly important research activities” according to the facility’s director. Some members of the community are concerned the road will mean the closure of the whole portion of the research farm south of the beltway and in effect chip further chip away at the entire facility’s operational integrity. University officials feel that the project will be a net benefit to the school and the area and that it will improve safety on Route 1.
The Diamondback: “University, city spar over road proposal” 12/1/06
The Diamondback: “Connector Road Debate Heats Up” 3/28/06
The Diamondback: “Solving Traffic Congestion in the City Takes Center Stage” 3/6/06
Capital News Service: “Campus Connector Draws Community Concern” 11/3/04