The Maryland State Highway Administration has approved a traffic light at the intersection of St. Andrew’s Church Road and Wildewood Parkway, Del. John Bohanan (D-St. Mary’s) told the St. Mary’s County commissioners Wednesday.
The commissioners, the planning commission and many residents of Wildewood, the largest neighborhood in the county, requested the signal.
Bohanan said in his March 27 letter that it can typically take up to 18 months to design and install a traffic signal, depending on whether or not any land needs to be purchased. “Once the project reaches a 30 percent stage of design, they will have a better estimate of the actual installation schedule,” he wrote.
The Maryland State Highway Administration wrote to the St. Mary’s County commissioners on May 18, 2012, saying that a traffic signal was not justified at that location. “We understand that a certain amount of delay exists at this intersection during the peak commuting hours; however, this delay is typical along many roads that intersect an arterial roadway,” wrote Lee Starkloff, SHA district engineer. The commissioners were told in October three traffic studies made did not warrant a signal there.
As of January, 2,395 homes had been built in Wildewood, with approvals to build up to 1,397 more homes there. Wildewood has three main entrances at Wildewood Parkway, Wildewood Boulevard and Airport Road. Wildewood Parkway, which meets Route 4, does not have a signalized intersection; the other two do along Route 235.
A 2012 Maryland State Highway Administration average daily traffic count showed 17,201 vehicles a day on Route 4 near Wildewood Parkway. The average daily traffic count on Chancellor’s Run Road at Route 235 was 17,311.
Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) has been asking for improvements along St. Andrew’s Church Road, including the traffic signal at Wildewood Parkway. He said drivers frequently make right turns out of Wildewood Parkway because it’s too dangerous to take a left turn out. Drivers make a right and then turn left into a private parking lot across the street and then make a right turn back onto Route 4.
Morgan thanked Bohanan for the news and said Wednesday, “The light has been long overdue for a long time. I’m glad we were able to get it. I hope we get it sooner or later. I’m hoping it can be done sooner than 18 months.”
“There’s not a lot we know yet other than that it’s approved,” Charlie Gischlar, SHA spokesman, said Thursday. “That’s pretty much all we know at this point.” There is no design yet, no cost estimates or schedule yet, he said.
Bohanan wrote that he is also following up on a federal investment “that paid for a study to look at the widening of Rt. 4 from Rt. 235 to the Thomas Johnson Bridge. As you know, traffic stacks up some evenings from the Bridge all the way to the Rt. 235 intersection and all the way back almost to the [Navy] Base on occasions.”
SHA told the commissioners it was designing a new lane for Route 4 last October. The state will be widening northbound Route 4 and adding a 3,000-foot-long lane from the Route 235 intersection to Patuxent Boulevard. Gischlar said the project is still in design and the goal is to bid the project this fall and to start construction in 2014. The estimated cost should be $4 million to $4.5 million. A $5.5 million state study of the Johnson bridge and routes 235 and 4 intersection is wrapping up this year.
An average of 58,912 vehicles a day were counted on Route 235 just south of the Route 4 intersection, the most heavily traveled section of roadway in St. Mary’s County. There was an average of 26,811 vehicles a day on Route 4 east of the Route 235 intersection.
Bohanan’s letter also stated he has asked SHA for short-term solutions and long-term improvements at the intersection of Great Mills Road and Route 5 in Great Mills, which becomes a bottleneck during rush hours. The average daily traffic count at that intersection was 18,460 vehicles last year.
“There’s nothing in there I haven’t been squawking about,” Morgan said. He’s asked for an extra lane along Route 5 from around the intersection to Flat Iron Road and suggested cost sharing between St. Mary’s County government and the state.
Gischlar said SHA is still gathering information at that intersection.