Staff from the Maryland Department of Transportation met with the St. Mary’s commissioners on Tuesday to discuss transportation projects and present the six-year capital program before preparation of the department’s final budget for the General Assembly in January.
MDOT meets with each county in Maryland annually, along with Baltimore city, between Sept. 15 and Nov. 15 to provide state updates on transportation. The provided report contains three documents: the Maryland Transportation Plan, the Consolidated Transportation Program and annual Attainment Report on Transportation System Performance.
The state’s draft FY 2020-2025 Consolidated Transportation Program invests $15.3 billion in the state’s transportation network. The Maryland Transportation Authority is investing another $3.1 billion in toll roads and bridges across the state.
“We’re working with the state, the county and our local partners” to complete these transportation projects, Leslie Dews, deputy administrator of the Motor Vehicle Administration, said to commissioners, adding that the Loveville MVA office now has Saturday hours available from 8 a.m. to noon.
“We are developing solutions to Maryland problems … and addressing the most pressing needs. … We are also encouraging the use of technology” she said.
Commissioner President Randy Guy (R) commended the MVA for its successful programs, but expressed his concern with cybersecurity. Dews assured him there is a rigorous program in place to insure security of all documents within the system.
MDOT is working on several projects in St. Mary’s County, including a $13 million intersection safety improvement project along Route 5 at Abell and Moakley streets in Leonardtown. Construction is expected to begin this fall, with a completion date scheduled for fall 2021.
In addition, the department is planning a $27 million improvement project on Route 5 leading to Point Lookout State Park, to include an 11-foot lane with an 8-foot shoulder in both directions between Camp Brown Road and the park entrance. Construction is slated to be completed in fall 2021.
Engineering is still underway to improve Route 5 north of its intersection with Great Mills Road, where more than 22,000 vehicles travel daily, according to the department’s report.
Del. Matt Morgan (R-St. Mary’s), who was in attendance at the briefing, commended the state transportation department for its excellent communication with the board and expressed excitement for the road expansion projects.
The plan incorporates general aviation grants for the St. Mary’s County Regional Airport, public bus replacements and maintenance, and county bikeway programs, including phase seven of the Three Notch Trail.
MDOT also plans to widen Route 4 between Wildewood Parkway and Old St. Andrew’s Church Road, creating a dedicated left-turn lane onto Old St. Andrew’s Church Road and onto Wildewood Parkway. Design is underway and the project is scheduled to be advertised for construction in spring 2021.
“People on St. George’s Island have reached out to me … safety is one of your priorities. There is an issue with the roads washing away. We hope you take to heart” the flooding issue as it affects the people who live there, Commissioner Mike Hewitt (R) said.
Commissioner Eric Colvin (R) requested that the board take a specific look at the intersection on Route 5 by Medley’s Neck Road and Fairgrounds Road in Leonardtown regarding safety of pedestrians. Guy agreed that the area often becomes congested and seems unsafe.
“Traffic safety is a way of life for me … I appreciate the work going into reducing” fatalities on the roads, Commissioner John O’Connor (R) said.
The department of transportation officials told the commissioners they would take their suggestions and work toward a plan to guarantee improved safety.
There were 513 roadway fatalities in the state in 2018, according to MDOT.
The MDOT program contains projects across the department, including the Maryland Aviation Administration, the MVA, the Maryland Transit Administration, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Maryland Port Administration and the Maryland Transportation Authority.
Capital projects are included in the CTP that are generally new and involve planning, environmental studies, design, right-of-way acquisition, construction or the purchase of essential equipment related to the facility or service.
The report also outlined highlights of the project, such as updating Maryland’s bicycle and pedestrian master plans, implementing innovative and collaborative solutions for Maryland-specific problems, and championing environment resiliency through actionable planning.
Earl Lewis, deputy secretary, concluded MDOT’s presentation by encouraging everyone to sign the driver safety pledge so that “they are thinking about safety every time they get behind the wheel.”