County puts pri­or­i­ties on trans­porta­tion projects

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

CENTREVILLE — In prepa­ra­tion for the Mary­land Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion tour with Sec­re­tary Pete Rahn, the Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers unan­i­mously iden­ti­fied the county’s pri­or­ity fund­ing projects for the state’s Con­sol­i­dated Trans­porta­tion Pro­gram dur­ing the July 12 meet­ing.

With the idea of safety and mo­bil­ity in mind, the com­mis­sion put tak­ing the needed steps to fund and im­ple­ment the re­quired Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy Act study for the Wil­liam Pre­ston Lane Jr. Memo­rial (Bay) Bridge at the top of the list, fol­lowed by en­hanc­ing the safety and ca­pac­ity of Mary­land 18, and the con­struc­tion project at U.S. Route 50 and Mary­land 213 in­ter­change near Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege.

The Con­sol­i­dated Trans­porta­tion Pro­gram is a six-year cap­i­tal bud­get up­dated by the state ev­ery year that al­lows coun­ties to pri­or­i­tize small and large trans­porta­tion projects. Projects el­i­gi­ble for funds in the pro­gram can come from the Mary­land Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion, the Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Ad­min­is­tra­tion, the Mary­land Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion, the Mary­land Port Author­ity and the Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Author­ity, ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion’s web­site. Funds re­ceived from the state can be used to­ward plan­ning, de­sign, en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies, right-of-way ac­qui­si­tions, con­struc­tion, and equip­ment pur­chase, the web­site states.

Re­gard­ing the NEPA study re­quired by the state if an­other bridge were to span the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, Todd Mohn, di­rec­tor of the county’s depart­ment of pub­lic works, said though the Life Cy­cle Cost Anal­y­sis Study has been com­pleted for the bridge, “we be­lieve now is the time to start plan­ning for im­prove­ments and or re­place­ments for that bridge,” he said. “We want to start the NEPA process sooner rather than later be­cause that is the big bot­tle­neck here for our cit­i­zens, in par­tic­u­lar on Kent Is­land, on heavy travel week­ends.”

In a let­ter to the com­mis­sion­ers, Mohn stated that as the only sin­gle cross­ing of the Bay with lim­ited ca­pac­ity, traf­fic and safety haz­ards will con­tinue to grow and af­fect county cit­i­zens. Be­cause of the bridge’s im­por­tance to not just Queen Anne’s County but the state in gen­eral, the com­mis­sion found it ap­pro­pri­ate to put it as its first pri­or­ity for po­ten­tial fund­ing.

“I just think that ... bridge is what chokes this county off in the sum­mer time,” County Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran said. “We get to the win­ter, late fall, early spring, we don’t have the traf­fic is­sues, so I think that needs to be our No. 1 pri­or­ity.”

Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Mark An­der­son said Mo­ran mir­rored his thoughts ex­actly, and he, too, wanted to see the Bay Bridge as the county’s main pri­or­ity.

Iden­ti­fied as the main im­prove­ment pri­or­ity in the Kent Is­land Trans­porta­tion Plan, en­hance­ments and safety im­prove­ments along Mary­land 18 were voted by the com­mis­sion as the sec­ond over­all county pri­or­ity. If fund­ing were to be re­ceived for work along the route, work would in­clude com­pre­hen­sive road­way and pedes­trian im­prove­ments from Cas­tle Ma­rina Road to the Kent Nar­rows, the let­ter to Rahn stated.

The third pri­or­ity is need for the con­struc­tion of an in­ter­change at U.S. 50 and Mary­land 213 by Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege. The let­ter states land ac­qui­si­tion and some de­sign work has been com­pleted through­out the past 20 years. Fund­ing is needed for the project’s fi­nal en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion. The com­ple­tion of the in­ter­change, the let­ter states, is the main com­po­nent of the U.S. 50 Ocean Gate­way project.

Mohn said the larger project is multi-phased and in­cludes the con­struc­tion five dif­fer­ent over­passes and the du­al­iza­tion of U.S. 50 from four to six lanes.

The com­mis­sion­ers also voted 4-1 to sign a let­ter to Rahn stat­ing they would not be putting the con­struc­tion of the Ch­ester­town by­pass on the county’s pri­or­ity list. An­der­son voted against sign­ing the let­ter say­ing he felt no let­ter was needed. The Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers had asked for Queen Anne’s sup­port of the project as a pri­or­ity.

Though they didn’t en­dorse the project in its list, the com­mis­sion­ers said they weren’t op­posed to the project, just that there are more press­ing trans­porta­tion is­sues in the county.

The by­pass project would in­clude cre­at­ing a sec­ond cross­ing of the Ch­ester River about a mile east of the ex­ist­ing struc­ture that would be­gin near Mary­land 544. The aim of the project is to al­le­vi­ate traf­fic in down­town Ch­ester­town, County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Gregg Todd said.

To view the state’s Con­sol­i­dated Trans­porta­tion Pro­gram, visit the Mary­land Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion web­site at www. mdot.mary­land.gov. To view the county’s Kent Is­land Trans­porta­tion plan in its en­tirety, visit www. qac.org/Doc­u­men­tCen­ter/ View/4460.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

The Queen Anne’s County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers (fac­ing for­ward) lis­ten to, from left, county at­tor­ney Patrick Thomp­son, Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor Todd Mohn, pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties plan­ner Steve Co­hoon and chief san­i­tary en­gi­neer Alan Quimby talk about the county’s pri­or­i­ties for the state’s Con­sol­i­dated Trans­porta­tion Plan at the Tues­day, July 12, meet­ing.

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