- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The construction of FDR Boulevard from Lexington Park to Route 4 has been talked about for decades. Now, work on a small piece of it is scheduled to begin in the spring.
It will connect Great Mills Road to South Shangri-La Drive in Lexington Park, a distance of 1,030 feet, said Allen Settle, project manager.
But this construction is not part of a grander plan to have FDR Boulevard run uninterrupted between Pegg Road in Lexington Park north to St. Andrew’s Church Road (Route 4), a distance of 3.7 miles.
Disjointed parts of FDR Boulevard already exist, built by developers over the years as a condition of their projects’ approval. Joining those existing pieces, which total 1.52 miles, from St. Andrew’s Church Road (Route 4) to Pegg Road is in the county’s budget, listed as a $24.7 million project, but any actual construction is still more than a year away.
St. Mary’s County Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R) is opposed to county government building the road, and he voted against the entire fiscal 2013 budget because it is included.
“We may be in for some really austere times across the country and here in the county based on sequestration,” Jarboe said last week, as automatic defense cuts are looming at the end of the year unless federal officials reach a compromise on the country’s finances.
“My answer is not to go further in debt,” Jarboe said.
The county is paying $13.6 million this year for past borrowing, finance documents show. The county’s debt was $91.9 million as of July 1, a debt ratio of 0.8 percent to assessed property value. The county’s debt limit is 2 percent.
Good, functional roads are one of the essentials for a community, said Commissioner Dan Morris (R). He said he supports the FDR Boulevard project. “I think we need to let the Navy know we are sincere in this project,” he said. However, “I don’t believe it’s wise to borrow a lot for that project.”
“FDR Boulevard goes smack down the middle of the [county’s largest] development district,” said Commissioner Todd Morgan (R), an advocate of the project. “The county is going to continue to grow — it needs infrastructure.”
In future decisions about closing and realigning military bases, “the data calls will come” about the area’s roads, schools and sewer, he said, as a measure of St. Mary’s County’s ability to support Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
While construction waits for the bulk of the project, bids are being solicited now to build the short section on Great Mills Road, county public works and transportation staff said.
St. Mary’s County government bought the last strip bar in the county — Rose’s Place II — for $450,000 to clear the way for that section of road. Great Mills Road had several such establishments after Patuxent River Naval Air Station opened in 1943.
This new section of FDR Boulevard would serve the Bay District Volunteer Fire Department, the Lexington Park library and a new Lexington Park Rescue Squad station, which should start construction in March, Settle said.
The road will have three lanes, with a center turn lane. A traffic signal isn’t initially required after the road is built at Great Mills Road, but a traffic study will be done. There is a traffic light only 400 feet away at Midway Drive, said John Groeger, deputy director of the St. Mary’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation.
“That’s pretty close for a signal,” he said.
The original section of FDR Boulevard was built along Millison Plaza in Lexington Park, which is still a privately owned road. A future FDR Boulevard, named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is shown on a 1971 plat of Millison Plaza.
Prep work continues on what the public works and transportation department terms the first phase of the larger FDR Boulevard project, which in total runs 1.7 miles from Route 4 to Chancellor’s Run Road. The design is 90 percent completed and 85 percent of the land needed has been purchased, Groeger said.
“State highway is helping with the acquisition — it’s an intense amount of work,” he said. The Maryland State Highway Administration is helping in the administration and manpower, but is not providing any construction money.
That work needs to be finished and some new wetlands have to be created to offset disturbances before the road can be built, he said.
The county budget projects $18 million for construction between July 2014 and June 2017 for the road between Route 4 and Pegg Road.
FDR Boulevard was once intended to be an alternate route to Route 235. Now it is intended to serve the local neighborhoods as a road to use instead of having to go onto Route 235.
FDR Boulevard in the First Colony shopping center in California has two lanes in each direction. When the county builds the rest of the roadway, it will be one lane in both directions with sidewalks, shoulders and streetlights, Groeger said.
The new section of FDR Boulevard will connect to Old Rolling Road and picks up on a section of FDR already built in the Mazel neighborhood. A new connection is needed to meet Amber Drive in the Hickory Hills neighborhood.
There are three roundabout intersections planned: at Old Rolling Road, at Westmeath Way and at Meath Road/Athlone Drive in Hickory Hills.
The next phase of work after that will extend from Chancellor’s Run Road to Pegg Road, across from Gate 1 at Pax River.
The county government would build a section of the road using the old railroad right of way past the Bay District California firehouse, past the San Souci neighborhood to Buck Hewitt Road for a length of 0.8 of a mile.
The county still needs to buy some land running parallel with the railroad right of way, which is not wide enough to accommodate the road. The path would be expanded 20 to 30 feet on the north side, Settle said.
Developers have already built .45 of a mile beyond Buck Hewitt Road. The county would have to build the road the rest of the way, behind the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, the Exploration business park and the Discovery neighborhood, to Pegg Road.
The rest of the plan for FDR Boulevard is to extend past Pegg Road into Lexington Park to South Shangri-La Drive, and perhaps to Willows Road. That is not in the county’s building plans at this point.