SHA: Route 222 doesn’t need up­grades for growth now

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CH­ERYL MAT­TIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— Ce­cil County of­fi­cials re­ceived some good news last week from Maryland State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion that could open doors to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment at the Ch­e­sa­peake Over­look prop­erty near Hol­ly­wood Casino and nearby areas.

Re­sults of a traf­fic study re­quested by county of­fi­cials last year dur­ing the state’s an­nual Con­sol­i­dated Trans­porta­tion Pro­gram re­veal no up­grades to the Route 222 bridge over I-95 are needed at this time.

The news was de­liv­ered in a let­ter dated June 10 and signed by Gre­gory Slater, deputy ad­min­is­tra­tor of plan­ning, en­gi­neer­ing, real es­tate and en­vi­ron­ment at SHA, and sent to elected of­fi­cials in Port De­posit, Per­ryville, Ce­cil County and state lawmakers rep­re­sent­ing Ce­cil County.

In fact, the study shows that the in­ter­change can cur-

PER­RYVILLE

rently han­dle ap­prox­i­mately 50 per­cent more traf­fic at peak times dur­ing the week be­fore it war­rants widen­ing or re­place­ment to ac­com­mo­date more turn lanes.

“This is pos­i­tive news,” County Di­rec­tor of Ad­min­is­tra­tion Al Wein said at a coun­cil work ses­sion Tues­day morn­ing.

Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Robert Hodge said the news didn’t sur­prise him, as he felt pre­vi­ous ef­forts to deny de­vel­op­ment were a byprod­uct of the Demo­cratic O’Mal­ley ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“It’s been my per­cep­tion all along that this in­ter­sec­tion didn’t need im­prove­ments be­fore more eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment could take place,” he said. “I al­ways thought the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion didn’t want growth in this area.”

“I be­lieve that’s one of the rea­sons County Ex­ec­u­tive Tari Moore re­moved it from our pri­or­ity list this year,” he added.

“But, I know the town (Per­ryville) is still wor­ried,” Hodge added, ref­er­enc­ing a let­ter the town sent to SHA in the last week em­pha­siz­ing their trans­porta­tion pri­or­i­ties.

Coun­cil­man Dan Sch­neck­en­burger con­curred with Per­ryville’s con­cerns about in­creas­ing traf­fic in that cor­ri­dor.

“I’m glad SHA did this, but it doesn’t re­solve the is­sue of traf­fic back­ups dur­ing peak hours at Route 40 and Route 222 with so many peo­ple tak­ing the Hatem Bridge to avoid the higher toll at I-95,” he said. “This study should help Per­ryville’s ar­gu­ment for toll re­lief dur­ing rush hour on I-95 ... I know more peo­ple would use I-95 bridge if toll re­lief was given.”

The lock-out of fu­ture eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment projects in the area of the I-95 and Route 222 in­ter­change was the re­sult of a 2012 traf­fic study that based its find­ings on traf­fic gen­er­ated if po­ten­tial com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial projects in­clud­ing Bain­bridge, Wood­lands at Per­ryville, Gran­ite Cliffs, Happy Val­ley, Cedar Cor­ner and Ch­e­sa­peake Over­look were com­pleted by 2035. Most of those projects never took off, how­ever.

This new study fo­cused on what ad­di­tional traf­fic ca­pac­ity is avail­able at the bridge now, SHA off­i­cals said.

Traf­fic growth thresh­olds that would trig­ger im­prove­ments to the in­ter­change, ac­cord­ing to the study, were a 40 per­cent in­crease to im­prove the ramps and a 50 per­cent or greater in­crease to widen or re­place the bridge.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Traf­fic heads north on Route 222 from the Hatem Bridge toll booth and the red light at the in­ter­sec­tion of Route 40 and Route 222 in Per­ryville. Town of­fi­cials want state trans­porta­tion of­fi­cials to give lo­cals a dis­count at the In­ter­state 95 toll dur­ing rush hour.

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