By Sen. Roy Dyson

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]

Is the solution to increased traffic in St. Mary's County going to be a
traffic light at every intersection? I hope not. But I am afraid we
will need a few more. Same are needed right now.

There is a great conflict between the desire for traffic to move
quickly and freely on main roads and the need for people to enter and
exit those main roads to get to their homes and to shop. These conflicts
are becoming blatantly apparent at some intersections which up until
recently didn't seem to be any problem at all.

I know it is the Navy's desire to keep transportation corridors into
and out of St. Mary's County as free of traffic lights as possible. They
have an interest in making the travel time to and from the city as short
as possible for the convenience of their workers. I support that idea
wholeheartedly and will work wherever possible to insure that their
wishes are met. But we have gone beyond the time we can flatly deny
traffic lights for that reason alone.

Traffic lights aren't inherently bad. It hasn't been that long ago that
the Route 235/245 intersection in Hollywood was without a traffic light.
When the light was installed there were several major accidents as
people got used to the idea. Now it would be hard to imagine that
intersection without a traffic light. The obvious need for safety
outweighs the inconvenience of waiting for a red light there.

The new traffic light at Routes 249 and 5 in Callaway is also working.
That was a dangerous intersection. Folks coming to that intersection on
Route 249 were at some hours finding it impossible to get out on Route
5. The traffic light and lane changes are a dramatic improvement. Safety
has been achieved without slowing things down too much.

The next intersection planned for improvement is also needed right now:
Route 5 and Flat Iron Road/Indian Bridge Road. There is not only an
inconvenience there for people waiting but it
is downright dangerous. Traffic in one direction on Route 5 is picking
up steam from waiting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Traffic in the other
direction is building up steam from going down a steep hill.. At some
hours of the day it is literally impossible to enter Route 5 without
being an aggressive and dangerous driver.

I was the first elected official to propose a light there and have been
dogged in my perseverance to see it happen. Unfortunately things have
been a little slow as State Highway Administration and the county were
negotiating with property owners on Flat Iron and Indian Bridge roads so
that the needed realignment could be accomplished along with the traffic

I am happy to report that I was told this week that the negotiations
are now complete and design and engineering for the intersection can now
begin. Bids for the project are expected to be let this fall after the
engineering is finished. Construction will begin in the spring. Since
there is a road alignment it is taking longer than just putting up a
light. I wish things could go faster but I have been assured this is as
fast as possible for this project.

We have been unsuccessful so far in getting a light at Route 5 and
Moakley Street in Leonardtown. This is a busy and dangerous intersection
and the town commissioners have repeatedly asked for a light there. So
far the state has denied the request. The town is about to ask again and
we will support that request.

I also have been asked to take a look at the Routes 5 and 4
intersection south of Leonardtown. There have been several accidents
there recently. This might be one intersection where flashing yellow
warning lights may been needed now and a full or partial signaling later
on. State highway officials have agreed to do a study of this

On another road issue, we are constantly being asked about the status
of the Hughesville bypass. According to Larry Elliott in the district
engineers office, an eastern route is the preferred option but the exact
location is still under review by a local committee working with the
state. There are apparently some wetlands concerns. This is another
project that is going slower than I had hoped. We will continue to watch

Over the past several years we have gotten some really good ideas from
the readers of this column about how to improve traffic. What better
thing to think about sitting in that traffic jam. We have found SHA
District Engineer Paul Armstrong to be most willing to listen to any and
all suggestions and most interested in doing the right thing to get a
safer and more efficient road network here in Southern Maryland. If you
have any ideas please call my office at 301-994-2826 and we'll pass them
along to him.

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]