So. Md. Delegation Pushes for Improvements to Solomons Bridge - Southern Maryland Headline News

So. Md. Delegation Pushes for Improvements to Solomons Bridge

By Guy Leonard, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (June 18, 2009)—Southern Maryland legislators say that they are still waiting for a response from State Highway Administration and Department of Transportation staff about options for reducing traffic congestion on Route 235 and across the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge.

The project team on the bridge design started work after this year’s legislative session, said Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland Director Wayne Clark after local law makers asked for the options.

“They pressed MDOT and SHA to look into what could be done,” Clark said. “They’ve begun developing options for short term solutions.”

The expansion or rebuilding of the bridge, which links Calvert and St. Mary’s County and accommodates commuter traffic to and from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, is the region’s top transportation priority, Clark said.

Del. John Wood (D-Dist.29A) said that the delegation has received no word yet on what those traffic decongestion measures might be.

“Just tell us what you’re doing,” Wood said. “They say they’re working, they say they’re putting it together.

“Show us what you’re doing.”

David Buck, spokesman for the State Highway Administration, said that the project team would need several months to work out ideas.“

They’re just at the beginning stages of coming up with these ideas,” Buck said.

Wood said one option for relieving the stress on Route 235 could be to open up the shoulder or another lane to allow traffic to make the turn onto Route 4 and let the rest of the traffic move along.

But that still left the traffic bottleneck problem at the bridge and across it, he said.

Traffic routinely backs up on Route 235 leading to the intersection of Route 4 in St. Mary’s, and traffic also bottlenecks at the bridge crossing along the span out to Route 4.

On the other side of the bridge, in Calvert County, traffic again stalls as cars comes off the span where traffic starts at two lanes of traffic.

Currently no money has been appropriated for either the engineering or the construction of either a new bridge or an expansion.

Those options and others are still in the planning study stage.

The cost for engineering could be about $68 million, while the total cost of the whole project has been estimated at about $600 million.

Getting options to relieve traffic there now was critical, said House Minority Leader Del. Anthony O’Donnell (D-Dist. 29C).

“The state needs to evaluate the Thomas Johnson Bridge at Route 4 and on both sides of the bridge to mitigate traffic congestion as an interim action prior to the bridge being build,” O’Donnell said. “It won’t solve the problems permanently but they may be somewhat helpful in managing the traffic congestion.”

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