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The nearly 1-mile section of Piney Church Road under construction since March 2013 in Waldorf opened to traffic Monday, connecting the road to Route 488 a mile north of its current intersection.

Defined as a “major collector” by Charles County, Piney Church Road runs by the new St. Charles High School and Regency Furniture Stadium, home of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.

The old section of Piney Church Road — the portion south of the stadium that runs through a wooded area — has been marked St. Jacob’s Drive but could be renamed in the future, The St. Charles Cos. spokesman Craig Renner said.

The old intersection with Route 488, also known as La Plata Road, will be closed off Monday in order to redirect students and buses traveling to St. Charles High School to the “newer, safer intersection,” Renner said. The plan is eventually to close off the southern intersection permanently, so that the old section of Piney Church Road exists only to serve the homes along it, he said.

The new section is 5,000 feet long and includes a 10-foot paved hiker-biker path.

Spurred by the pupil transportation needs of the new high school, the project cost $3.1 million, “at no cost to county taxpayers,” according to a news release from The St. Charles Cos.

Renner said the developer has no plans to build homes along the new section for many years, so the project came “ahead of time in terms of our needs but just in time for the needs of Charles County.”

“It’s a safer, better-designed road with better stormwater management controls. It will make it easier, particularly for students and buses carrying students, to get to the new high school,” Renner said. “The southern half of Piney Church Road had much more traffic than it should have and was particularly unsafe. The new road and the new intersection will be much safer for motorists in general, and student drivers in particular.”

Blue Crabs General Manager Patrick Day said the project shows the dedication The St. Charles Cos. and Charles County have to developing the area and making it more accessible for residents.

“I’m really excited because I think the egress will be a lot better for people coming from La Plata and that part of the county,” he said.

Day also said he expects the new road to alleviate concerns from fans who complained of having to navigate the wooded section of Piney Church Road after games, which typically end about 10 p.m.

“Some people worried about deer and stuff like that and weren’t super comfortable driving it at 10 at night after a game,” he said.

Day said he has yet to hear any complaints about the new traffic light at the intersection of Piney Church Road and St. Linus Drive. He said the signal is triggered by a sensor and will remain green if there’s a line of waiting cars, a common occurrence as fans file out of the stadium’s parking lot following games or events.

jnewman@somdnews.com