Not all Residents Happy With Proposed FDR Boulevard - Southern Maryland Headline News

Not all Residents Happy With Proposed FDR Boulevard


By Cynthia Bryson, County Times

LEXINGTON PARK, Md. (Dec. 6, 2007)—A public information meeting to discuss St. Mary’s County FDR Boulevard project, Phase 1, was held Monday night at the Loffler Senior Center at Chancellor’s Run Regional Park. The Directorate of Public Works and Transportation’s Deputy Director John Groeger and other members of that department hosted the meeting. Over 100 citizens showed up to voice their concerns.

Phase 1 of the project runs for 1.7 miles and begins at the intersection of FDR and First Colony Boulevards heading southeast to state Route 237. The purpose of the meeting was to inform interested citizens on the many facets of the project, which includes proposed crosswalks, sidewalks, street lighting and bike lanes. The meeting was then opened up for a question and answer session. The majority of the attendees were clearly not happy with the impact this boulevard will have on their communities.

Afterwards those residents who wished to remain broke down into groups around the room set up with areas arranged to display large maps of the different portions of the immense project with representatives from DPW and T available to address concerns unique to those areas.

This long-going project was designed to address congestion issues within the county, which grew by 13 percent between 1990 and 2000 with the population now nearing 100,000 which has reduced “quality of life for our residents,” according to Groeger. The military community has grown alongside the civilian sector, significantly increasing road traffic. The plan is to reduce traffic on state Route 235 and provide alternate routes for residents to schools, shopping areas and other facilities.

The road has been in the planning stages for 20 years, beginning as a parallel road to state Route 235. In 1999 an engineering consultant produced plans, public meetings were held and the project was put on hold due to residential opposition.

It was brought back to life in 2006 as a two-lane residential connector. This time around it was reduced from four lanes to two to address traffic concerns and other features were added, such as “roundabouts,” or traffic circles and a landscaped median. It is now in the design and property acquisition phase.

The design is 15 to 20 percent complete, according to DPW & T Project Manager Allen Settle.

The county’s budget has allotted $7.3 million to this phase, funded through county bonds, impact fees and transfer taxes. Environmental assessments, wetland mitigation plans, multiple permits and traffic and transportation assessments were required. Developers are responsible for construction in some areas along the route.

Some of the attendees voiced concerns over the use of roundabouts instead of traffic circles, but studies have shown that, although more costly, roundabouts are more effective at slowing and controlling traffic. Speed bumps and speed limits will also be used to keep speed to a minimum.

“Based on some of the concerns we heard before, we believe we can provide a neighborhood connection that’s badly needed while at the same time limiting the through traffic that would impact the neighborhood,” said Groeger. The residents in attendance didn’t seem to agree with his assessment.

Gary Pratz, 41, of Barefoot Acres asked how much of the $7.3 million earmarked for the project was for safety features or noise barriers. “As much as needs to be,” Groeger said.

Dana Marshall, who gave her age as being “over 21,” is concerned for the safety of her neighborhood. “Generally people see a sign that says miles per hour, they do 50. Is that safe for children running back and forth across that road?”

Marshall’s neighbor, George and Lynn Keenan, also were in attendance. They feel that traffic lights will be necessary to control traffic.

Seven-year-old Joshua Toney, a second grader at King’s Christian Academy and resident of the Laurel Glen subdivision offered a voice of compromise on whether or not he was pleased with the project. “Sort of both,” he said. He likes the idea because it will connect with Old Rolling Road, but was not so pleased “because of the two roundabouts.”

Pratz’s wife, Hannah, also 41, drew applause with the question, “Who gives you guys the right to put this road through housing developments?” Hannah has attended these meetings since 1999 and vociferously voiced her concerns at that time.She asserted that they have not addressed the citizens concerns that prompted the delay at that time. She also blamed developers for complicating the issue. She was also concerned with losing areas community children use for the project. “I’m very perturbed,” she said. “It is coming right in my back yard.”

“We are committed to working with the citizens of the area to assure that this roadway provides the needed access while at the same time assuring the livability of each community it traverses,” said Groeger.

Another public information meeting on the project is slated for August 2008. For more information of the status on the on-going project visit http://www.co.saint-marys.md.us/dpw/.

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