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UMBC seeks state money for $13M in road upgrades

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is laying the foundation for two major construction projects: the second phase of its $125 million humanities and performing arts building, and a proposed $12.9 million new entrance on UMBC Boulevard and Hilltop Circle at its Catonsville campus.

Funding for the project is included in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget. If the Maryland Legislature approves the governor’s proposal, the money will be available in July.

Campus architect Joe Rexing says preliminary engineering and design work will begin then if the budget is approved. If all goes well, construction will start in late spring of 2014.

“We are very hopeful. I think it gives us some confidence that it shows up in the governor’s proposed budget,” Rexing says.

After numerous rear-end collisions, UMBC officials expect the new entryway will make the campus a lot safer by replacing existing stop signs with two roundabouts. The plans also call for roadway improvement and landscaping on Hilltop Circle, and upgrades to the garage.

Traffic on the campus has grown along with enrollment, which has risen by nearly 25 percent since 2000 to nearly 13,000 undergraduates and graduate students.

Rexing says vehicles tend to go fast as they exit I-95 and Rolling Road, heading onto the campus via UMBC Boulevard. Vehicles also tend to stack up in the ramps during rush hour, also leading to crashes and problems.

“The interchange dates from the 60’s,” says Rexing, explaining the school plans to replace existing stop signs with two roundabouts.

As campus officials plot the road project, another major construction project is entering its second phase.  

The second phase, which includes a 350-seat concert hall and recording studio, is under construction and will open in the fall of 2014.
 
The first phase of the school’s new 178,000 square-foot performing arts and humanities building opened in September. It’s now home to the theater and English departments, three new writing labs, a 275-seat proscenium theater, a 120-seat black box theater and rehearsal space.
 
Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Joseph Rexing, UMBC architect; John Jeffries, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
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