Commissioners meet with MDOT
DENTON — Caroline County’s commissioners had their annual meeting with the Maryland Department of Transportation, Tuesday, Nov. 15, to share concerns and make requests for road and bridge projects.
With the two major projects the county requested for years, a new Dover Bridge and dualization of state Route 404, both fully funded and under way, nearly all of the requests this year came from towns within the county.
Commission President Wilbur Levengood asked engineers to again reconsider the J-turns in place of left turns in the design for Route 404, due to concerns over agricultural equipment like tractors and combines not being able to use them safely.
Levengood also asked for changes to the timing of the light at the intersection of River Road and Route 404, near North Caroline High School, to relieve traffic congestion in the morning and afternoon on weekdays, when people are traveling to and from the school.
Other than that, however, the only official piece of business from the county government during the meeting was the presentation of a letter of commendation for Maryland State Highway Administration District 2 Engineer Greg Holsey, to formally recognize his outstanding service to Caroline County.
The rest of the concerns came from town officials.
Ridgely Mayor Anthony Casey said the town is requesting a traffic light at the intersection of Central Avenue and state Route 480 — for the 60th year in a row.
The town has been requesting a light there since 1956. Holsey said numerous traffic studies have been conducted by SHA over the years, but so far, none of have shown the traffic volume meets at least one of 11 possible criteria to warrant a light.
Casey said the intersection is on the direct route between North Caroline High School and Ridgely Elementary School, and so gets busy with school buses trying to cross Route 480. He said it also gets busy on weekends when local sports leagues hold multiple games within the town.
Holsey said another study would have to be done to see if things have changed enough to need a light.
Casey said the town is also asking for signals and signage to be placed near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and First Street, where a new building, to be shared by the Ridgely Volunteer Fire Company and Caroline County Emergency Medical Services, is opening early next year.
The entrance will be near a blind curve, Casey said, which will not give unprepared drivers much time to react should they drive up on slow-moving equipment like fire trucks and tankers pulling onto Sunset Boulevard.
Casey said the town would like a signal like the one near the Easton Fire Station on state Route 328.
Denton Town Manager Don Mulrine said Denton would like to see changes made to relieve congestion on Legion Road, near the Denton Plaza and Walmart shopping center.
Mulrine said the town wants a cut in the median near the Denton Plaza entrance and exit, in front of Auto Zone, to allow left turns toward Route 404, perhaps with a restriction on making a left turn during particularly busy hours of the day.
Mulrine said the town would also like a roundabout where Route 404, Meeting House Road and Market and Gay streets meet near the entrance to Crouse Park, where the town is building a new visitor’s center, among other development projects.
Finally, Mulrine said the town would like a speed camera relocated from Camp Road to state Route 619, and a redesign of the intersection with Caroline Street, the main route to Lockerman Middle School, to improve safety there.
Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B, asked about the timeline for Dover Bridge’s completion.
Holsey said the bridge’s projected opening to traffic has been moved up five months to early 2019, due to good weather and hard work by the contractor.
The opening might be even earlier than that, Holsey said. Early indications show the bridge might be settling quicker than expected, possibly moving up the bridge’s opening another five months to late 2018.
“We don’t know that for sure yet,” Holsey said.
The Route 404 dualization project is on schedule to be completed by its original date, about a year from now.
Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Jim Ports said Caroline County and its towns will receive a total of $3.7 million in Highway User Revenues between Fiscal Years 2017 and 2022, for road and bridge maintenance.
Ports said in FY2017, the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office will get a $20,000 highway safety grant, and a $1.1 million grant will provide three replacement small buses for local public transit in conjunction with Talbot County.
Ports said Delmarva Community Services, which provides public transit on the Mid-Shore, including Caroline County, will get $573,000 in FY17 for capital assistance, specifically for the service it provides to seniors and people with disabilities.