MDOT conducts transportation plan review
DENTON — The Caroline County commissioners met Tuesday, Oct. 16, with Maryland Department of Transportation officials for their annual discussion about the state’s draft plan for the next six years of transportation spending statewide and in the county.
The meeting is also a chance for state representatives, county and municipal officials and citizens to tell MDOT what they think should be spending priorities in Caroline County.
Deputy Secretary of Transportation Jim Ports opened the meeting by saying the draft six-year Consolidated Transportation Plan includes $16 billion in spending across the state on transit, highways, Motor Vehicle Administration facilities, the Port of Baltimore and BWI.
In the plan, Caroline County will get a total of $9.3 million over those six years in highway user funds, for road maintenance, which includes an additional $841,000 in grants recently awarded by Gov. Larry Hogan, Ports said.
Ports said work will be done soon to improve safety at the intersection of state Route 404 and River Road in Denton.
Among the improvements planned are advance signals approaching the traffic light from both directions on Route 404, so drivers know when the signal is red or about to turn red; changing the left turn signals across Route 404 to green left arrow only; and creating a shortened dedicated left turn lane from River Road onto Route 404.
Ports said the signal work should be completed in June of next year.
The Caroline County Sheriff’s Office will get $12,000 in highway safety grants, funded through the MVA, said MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer.
The Maryland Transit Authority has awarded $1.1 million in operating and capital grants to the local transit operation serving Caroline, Talbot and Kent counties, which paid for a new bus, a Transportation Development Plan and preventative maintenance, said MTA Local Transit Support Director Travis Johnston. Another $195,000 in funding has gone to nonprofits serving the transportation needs of seniors and people with disabilities in the county.
Updates were also given on two major projects recently or nearly completed in the county, the state Route 404 dualization and the new Dover Bridge.
The $158 million Route 404 widening project, which turned the last 11 miles between U.S. Route 50 and the Denton bypass into a four-lane divided highway, was finished just before Thanksgiving last year.
The $65 million Dover Bridge opened to traffic in June, and should be officially complete this coming winter.
Over the past year, the State Highway Administration also finished a $1.2 million safety and resurfacing project on Route 404 Business between First and and Ninth streets in Denton, and eight more miles of paving on three other state roads in the county.
Following the MDOT officials’ presentation, state representatives thanked them for the Route 404 and Dover Bridge projects.
“It was an incredible feat, and greatly appreciated,” said Sen. Stephen Hershey, R-36, of the Route 404 widening.
“Your whole team has been extremely responsive to our needs,” said Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37.
Caroline County Commission President Larry Porter asked MDOT officials to continue working with local farmers to improve the use of J-turns across Route 404 for agricultural equipment, and to consider finishing dualizing the highway from the Denton bypass to the Delaware state line.
Commissioner Dan Franklin asked, on behalf of a local land owner, about the possibility of obtaining direct access to Route 404 from the owner’s 7-acre parcel, which would make it more attractive to potential commercial buyers.
Ridgely Town Commissioner Anthony Casey said the curbs at the intersection of Route 404 and state Route 312 are too high, and have caused damage to town fire trucks.
Casey said the town is also requesting a traffic signal at the intersection of Route 312 and State Route 480 for the 61st year in a row; officials said another traffic count, to see if the intersection meets any of the 11 warrants to justify a signal, is scheduled for one of the last two weekends in October.
Finally, Frank Miller, representing the C-TEAM, the citizen group advocating for Route 404 safety, also asked MDOT to dualize the last stretch of the highway to the Delaware line.
Miller also asked them to consider synchronizing the signals on Route 404 at Deep Shore and Legion roads, to prevent traffic backups, especially during heavy travel days in the summer; and for a dedicated green left turn arrow off of State Route 16 onto Route 404.