MDOT con­ducts trans­porta­tion plan re­view

Times-Record - - FRONT PAGE - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­record.com

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.

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