The St. Mary’s County commissioners Tuesday morning approved several budget amendments to close and/or move funding, including pushing out millions of dollars scheduled for part of FDR Boulevard.
Because of issues with property acquisition for Phase 3 of the new road, $3,006,985 was taken out of this year’s budget.
The first and second phases of the road have been completed. The overall project involves constructing a 3.7-mile section of a two-lane residential access way from Route 4 to Pegg Road, near Naval Air Station Patuxent River’s main gate, budgeted for $43.5 million.
The road is meant to relieve congestion and reduce delays along the Route 235 corridor by providing an alternative means for residents to travel to and from shopping and work. The project could potentially remove thousands of trips per day from Route 235 in the Lexington Park and California areas.
The project also includes a raised median with extensive use of traffic calming devices, pedestrian and bicycle accommodations, landscape and decorative lighting.
The project is being completed in three main phases, with Phase 2 completed first — a 0.2 mile section between Route 246 and Shangri-La Drive.
Phase 1, a 1.7-mile stretch between First Colony Boulevard and Chancellor’s Run Road, was done in three subsections and completed earlier this year.
The third phase of FDR Boulevard, planned in two subsections, will run from Chancellor’s Run Road to Pegg Road in Lexington Park.
There are 42 properties along that 1.8-mile section that will be affected. There are also three roundabout intersections planned for the third phase of the road — at MacArthur Boulevard, Buck Hewitt Road and behind the Exploration Office Park complex. That phase of the project also includes construction of the Three Notch Trail.
The need for FDR Boulevard was first determined in the mid-1980s, with the approval of the Lexington Park transportation plans and St. Mary’s County comprehensive plan.
In 1996, a memorandum of understanding was executed between St. Mary’s County and the Maryland State Highway Administration to perform a study on the project, which evaluated the engineering feasibility and included a preliminary environmental assessment, as well as assessed the amount and type of traffic that could be expected, the probable function, typical section, scope, impact and cost of constructing the roadway.
The report was completed in 1998 and SHA recommended the construction of a four-lane divided highway with limited access. In 1999, the county began preparing a right-of-way boundary survey, environmental assessment and preliminary alignment plans. The alignment was established and has been used as a tool to obtain rights-of-way as development progressed along the corridor over the last two decades.
The St. Mary’s County transportation plan approved in 2006 reduced the number of lanes to two and made the design more community friendly.
After the presentation Tuesday morning, Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) asked why FDR Boulevard continues to get delayed. “I’ve sat for nine years waiting for that road to get built,” he said.
The county’s department of finance staff did not offer a response to the question, but mentioned that mainly because of the property acquisition issues, the third phase can’t begin until next July.
The board works diligently to get projects done and while there may be people who disagree with the commissioners’ plans, Morgan said, residents need to remember that he and the other commissioners support infrastructure, education and security in the county, and need to be fiscally responsible.
“These projects are not from out of nowhere. There is a functional need for everything we are doing,” said Commissioner John O’ Connor (R).