Leonardtown Route 5 Upgrade Study Underway

By Adam Ross, County Times

LEONARDTOWN, Md. (November 15, 2007)—Vehicular safety concerns and traffic backups along the Route 5 corridor in Leonardtown, a 2-mile stretch extending just north of MD-243 and just south of MD-245, are prompting town officials to examine ways to expand the road.

The MD-5 Leonardtown Project Planning Study by the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) was birthed in the wake of alarming growth projections for average daily traffic (ADT) by 2030, and significantly high crash data.

“The year 2030 is the anticipated future window with the most accurate data to go from, showing over a 76 percent increase of traffic over this section of Maryland 5,” said Raymond L. Moravec, an associate with an engineering firm working as a consultant to SHA.

Since 2003, SHA has recorded 247 accidents along the corridor, with the number of reported accidents growing each year. However, Commissioner Thomas A. Mattingly Sr. (D-Leonardtown) hinted that the traffic data might be slightly off because the amount of fender benders not reported to the police.

“Sometimes there’s an accident there with no report,” Mattingly said. “There’s always been some questions about the accident data, we see about 120 accidents in that whole corridor per year.”

Moravec called the area a major safety issue.

As part of its presentation to the Leonardtown Commissioners Tuesday, SHA recommended a study to look at four possible alternatives to meet the needs of the area’s future traffic projections.

The first alternative would be a no build, but to maintain routine maintenance on the stretch. Alternative two would be to develop a transportation system management and travel demand management plans – namely looking at minimal improvements, but no major changes to the roadway. Moravec said this alternative would look more at consolidating driveways along the roadway, and improving signal timing. Alternative three calls for a continuous turn lane down the middle of the highway. Alternative four would be a larger build out proposal with a four-lane divide roadway with select turning areas.

SHA is using these alternatives as a starting point, and awaiting feedback from the community and county before it determines the best route. More alternatives are expected in the future. There’s also a five-lane alternative briefly discussed Tuesday, which would utilize a 14-foot area in the middle to make left hand turns. This would also include an 18-foot median, which could narrow in some locations.

According to project’s documents, the expansion is needed to improve vehicular safety, pedestrian mobility, and accommodate future growth in the area. As part of the four alternatives, SHA will consider aesthetic improvements as well – ranging from pedestrian cross walks, lighting, retaining walls, landscape, and accommodations for Amish and Mennonite buggies that also utilize the right away.

A public informational workshop is scheduled for Dec. 11, 2007, and Russell Walto, the project manager from SHA, said he hopes to have complete project planning by the spring or summer of 2009. Cost has not yet been determined, nor has the specifics of each alternative.

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