We used to joke about some of my dad’s more frequently used expressions. Several had to do with car travel. You’d be out driving around and he’d make a gesture and say, “That’s where the old road used to go.”
I got similar vibes from this post on the Columbia Reddit when someone asked:
Why is there a traffic light on Route 29 by Rivers Edge Road lol? It’s a whole ass highway with a traffic light. Who designed this?
What follows is the sort of discussion you might have around the water cooler or at the bar. Everyone has a piece of the answer, maybe not one hundred percent accurate, but revealing different aspects of the history involved. I found it fascinating, but perhaps that’s because I was raised by someone who wanted me to know where the old road used to go.
If you’ve lived here a long time, you know that 29 in Howard County used to have many more stop lights than it does today.
Back in the day - there was a lot less traffic and therefore it wasn't so weird to have lights on 29 - and there were a LOT of lights off the top of my head in unexpected places like at 108. About 20 years ago Howard made a concerted effort to remove lights on their portion on 29 and most are removed, so that one which is to hard remove, stands out like a sore thumb. Montgomery on the the other hand did a little of that - but Silver Spring is sitting on 29. - - from the Reddit conversation about the Rivers Edge stoplight
My own discovery of the Rivers Edge stoplight came in one frantic moment when I realized I had gone the wrong way on Route 29 while commuting to one of the many schools where I taught. I did think it was oddly placed but was thrilled to have a place to turn around and correct my mistake. I’m sure I looked around and thought, “People live out here? I wonder who lives out here?” I don’t think I pondered it much more than that.
If you hadn’t lived here very long, it would be easy to encounter that intersection and think, “Why was a traffic light added to a highway?” That’s why I found the conversation on Reddit so interesting, because it revealed a bigger picture: what the road used to look like, and what other portions of the road look like in Montgomery County, for example.
When I served on the Oakland Mills Village Board we were tasked with guiding the community through various decisions pertaining to a Route 29 widening project. This involved some rerouting of roads that provided access to homes located right off of 29. Holy mackerel, was that ever complicated and contentious! When I read the words “community resistance” in the Reddit conversation I had a rather unpleasant flashback to those days on the Board.
What do you know about Route 29 in Howard County generally, or the Rivers Edge stoplight specifically? I’m curious.