Planning of the roadway network with respect to functional classification, alignment, intersection spacing, signalization, emergency management, and traffic control is accomplished as a part of the County’s formal Engineering and Development Review services. Transportation planning is a key element in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which discusses the County’s position on Transportation and provides a listing of new and improved road needs. Other activities performed by the Department such as traffic accident analysis, vehicle counting programs and the County-wide mapping project are instrumental in assuring proper planning is being performed to provide adequate public facilities. Planning will be coordinated with the Town of Leonardtown, particularly as needs emerge for supplemental town bypasses and interconnections between the Governmental Center and the undeveloped lands east of Leonardtown. For a brief history of the Development of our Roadways since 1639 CLICK HERE.
Many communities have reached a crossroads. If they build a new highway, traffic will stop backing up--at least that’s the initial rationale. Citizens will stop calling to complain. Everyone presumably will be satisfied--for a while. This "solution," however, is short-lived. When pavement is laid, more vehicles come. With more vehicles, comes more smog. Autos are a major contributor to global warming. Their pollution also causes severe health problems for many. Traffic congestion, already costing us an estimated $168 billion annually in lost productivity, is expected to triple in coming years, wasting more productivity and fuel and worsening our air quality.
Our auto habits have caused increasing dependency on oil imports, much of it coming from unstable parts of the world. In 1970, 23 percent of America’s petroleum was imported. Today, we import more than 54 percent of our petroleum needs, and this number is estimated to reach more than 60 percent by 2010. The cost of oil imports to U.S. consumers totals some $50 billion annually. And in addition to the cost of oil imports, the cost of productivity loss, and the cost of congestion, we must add other social costs of transportation, such as traffic deaths and injuries, and pollution Some communities have found a promising new course for handling growth and their transportation problems. Planners refer to these ideas as "livable" or "sustainable" communities. By whatever name, these plans focus on people, rather than on cars.
System Performance Outcomes
The following represents desired outcomes of our transportation system:
|"Creating sustainable transport systems that meet people’s needs equitably and foster a healthy environment requires putting the automobile back into its useful place as a servant. With a shift in priorities, cars can be part of a broad, balanced system in which public transport, cycling, and walking are all viable options." --Marcia Lowe, Worldwatch Paper 98, Alternatives to the Automobile: Transport for Livable Cities, 1990, Worldwatch Institute
On February 19, 2002 the Commissioners of St. Mary's County adopted the updated Comprehensive Land Use Plan--A Strategy for the 21st Century. This plan is more than just a statement of the County's public policy; it attempts to address many issues, which affect our quality of life and the attainment of a Community Vision. Transportation planning is discussed within the Chapter IV text and requires the County to (1) "effect improvements and additions to the road network to correspond to and support the infrastructure needs in growth areas; (2) to ensure adequate highway and road system capacity; (3) to provide planned level of service for existing and proposed land uses; and (4) to address adequate facilities outside the growth areas." In addition, we are to ensure that "adequate travel lane widths for school buses, fire, rescue and moving vehicles" are provided while simultaneously maintaining a rural character.
County-Wide Transportation Plan
The Division routinely conducts planning and engineering studies of the existing County roadway networks, and establishes quantitative processes for prioritization / implementation of improvements, and evaluates hazardous locations and features in order to develop the County’s annual Capital Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). As a part of this process engineers research, inventory, collect and map accidents, perform vehicle/traffic counts, evaluate signalization warrants, levels of service, maintenance records, planned development, State improvements, current zoning etc. On August 29, 2006 the Commissioners of St. Mary's County adopted the St. Mary's County Transportation Plan which superseded the prior Lexington Park Transportation Plan Update.
The consolidated transportation plan provides an integrated multi-modal approach and evaluation of; motor vehicle safety, mass transit and light rail demand, park and ride facilities, recommendations for roadway maintenance-safety-widening-roadway & intersection improvements-emergency evacuation routes, public landings-water access points-future ferry service, Amish and Mennonite communities, horse and buggy corridors, bicycles routes, pedestrian mobility (sidewalks and trails), waterways and air transportation while considering the cultural resources throughout the County through the year 2025. Copies of the plan may be obtained by contacting the Department of Public Works and Transportation at (301) 475-4200 or by referring to our St. Mary's County Transportation Plan August 2006.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Trails Plan
In 1995, the Governor signed into law the Bicycle and Pedestrian Access 2000 bill which included the implementation of a Retrofit Sidewalk Program and a state-wide bicycle map along state routes. Connecting and providing safe/convenient bicycle and pedestrian facilities to residential, employment, recreational, shopping and transit centers is an essential part of a well-planned transportation system. Access to historical sites, schools, libraries, hospitals, parks, piers and boat ramps should also be considered. In addition to the utilization of retrofit sidewalk monies, a full inventory of existing trails, sidewalks, paved shoulders planned bicycle networks and points of interest were developed as a part of the adopted 2006 St. Mary's County Transportation Plan. A proposed bicycle trail system, prioritized sidewalk network and pathways to schools (trails) were recommended as a part of the Plan. Additional funds for recreational trails may be available as part of the Federal Surface Transportation Program through Maryland’s Recreational Trails Program. Eligible projects must be approved by the Recreational Trails Advisory Committee and reimbursement for up to 50% of eligible costs is secured through a Memorandum of Understanding administered by the Maryland State Highway Administration. The Federal Highway Administration has published Bicycle Road Safety Audit Guidelines to provide transportation agencies and road safety audit teams with a better understanding of the safety of cyclists in the transportation system.
Bikeway means all facilities that primarily provide for bicycle travel.
A Class I Bikeway or Bike Path provides for bicycle travel on a travel-way completely separated from any street or highway travel-way. Bike paths are usually intended to provide opportunities not provided by the road system.
A Class II Bikeway or Bike Lane provides a striped lane for one-way bike travel along a street or highway auto travel lane. Bike lanes are intended to delineate the portion of the right of way assigned to bicycles and automobiles and to provide for more predictable movements by each.
A Class III Bikeway, Shared Roadway, or Bike Route provides for shared use with pedestrian or motor vehicle traffic. These routes are delineated to provide continuity to other bicycle facilities or to designate preferred routes through high demand corridors.
Route Evaluation Study
The Route Evaluation Study is utilized to rate each County-maintained roadway in the County and to help develop a Highways Capital Improvement Program. It was performed to supplement the annual activities performed by both the County Highways and Construction & Inspections Divisions of the Department. As a part of the October 2002 update to the original October 1976 Study, a rating system was developed to more definitively document the condition of each roadway. The evaluation accounted for average daily traffic (ADT), roadway width, available shoulders, signage condition and adequacy, existing functional classification and pavement condition in order to establish a point score (Pavement Rating) for each roadway. Based on the results of the study, a list of roadways that need to be reclassified to either a higher or lower designation has been developed as well as a comprehensive listing of roadways that should be further studied. The identified improvements have been prioritized and incorporated into several capital improvement and pavement management plans.
School Bus Turnarounds
As the public and private school systems continue to add students and revise their respective transportation routes, oftentimes there is a need to either build a permanent turnaround at or utilize a private driveway. Permanent turnarounds and/or upgrades to existing turnarounds at the ends of County roadways are included in the Capital Budget as required. For public school bus transportation, the use of existing residential driveways for mid-block turnaround provisions are coordinated by the Board of Education (BoE). In cases where the use of existing driveways are required in order to adequately turn around, the BoE Transportation Director contacts the individual property owner(s), lists the improvements required and requests signature of a a right-of-entry agreement. The Department of Public Works & Transportation subsequently schedules the work and/or requests funding to perform the work at no cost to the property owner(s).