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County:Calvert Project Number:SM351_11
MD 0004 SOLOMONS ISLAND RD/PATUXENT BEACH RD UPGRADE BETWEEN MD 2 AND MD 235

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: 

What are the limits of the study?

A: 

The limits of this study are along MD 4 from Patuxent Point Parkway in Solomons Island, Calvert County to MD 235 in St. Mary's County.

Q: 

What is the purpose of this study?

A: 

The purpose of the project is to improve existing capacity and traffic operations, and to increase vehicular and pedestrian safety along MD 4 while supporting existing and planned development in the area. MD 4 provides commuters in the area with access to points north, including the District of Columbia (DC), as well as points south, including the Patuxent Naval Air Station. MD 4 is also the main evacuation route for the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. The enhancements to MD 4 would improve access, mobility, and safety for local, regional, and inter-regional traffic, including passenger and transit vehicles.

Q: 

What is the need for this study?

A: 

Over the past decades, traffic volumes on MD 4 have more than doubled. The residential development in the area just north of Solomons Island has increased substantially over the past few years. Over 60 percent of Calvert County residents commute outside of the county. In St. Mary's County, the Patuxent Naval Air Station now hosts over 17,000 people, including active-duty service members, civil-service employees, defense contractor employees, and military dependents. The total employment for St. Mary's County is approximately 49,000 persons, including the Patuxent Naval Air Station. In addition to high traffic volumes along northbound and southbound MD 4 during AM and PM peak periods, the traffic congestion on Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge is problematic. Inadequate shoulder widths along the bridge cause major traffic delays and/or closures during crashes and maintenance activities for both northbound and southbound traffic on the bridge. Currently, all maintenance activities on the bridge must be completed during late night to early morning hours to avoid causing major traffic delays during the AM and PM peak traffic hours.

In addition to the need for capacity and safety improvements, bicycle and pedestrian access is restricted to the southern portion of the study area. There is currently bicycle and pedestrian access along MD 4 south of the bridge in St. Mary's County, but it ends at the bridge. The Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge does not provide a dedicated bicycle/pedestrian lane.

Q: 

What are the components of SHA’s Selected Alternative?

A: 

SHA's Selected Alternative includes improvements on four road segments in the project area, including:

MD 235/MD 4 Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI) St. Mary’s County, April 2015

  • MD 235 would be elevated over MD 4, with two lanes of free flowing traffic in each direction and a ramp to accommodate turning vehicles.
  • Properties located on northbound MD 235 would gain access to MD 235 through new service roads.
  • MD 4 would remain at its existing grade with two lanes in each direction.
  • A traffic light located on MD 4, under the MD 235 span, would control turning movements..
  • A bicycle/pedestrian path on MD 4 would connect to the county’s proposed Three Notch Trail.
MD 4 Mainline, St. Mary’s County: Four-Lane Roadway with Open Median and Separate bicycle/Pedestrian Path
  • MD 4 would be widened from two lanes to four lanes with a 30-foot-wide median.
  • The existing road would be reconstructed to carry northbound traffic.
  • Two new lanes, constructed to the north of the existing road, would carry southbound traffic.
  • A bicycle/pedestrian path would be constructed to the south side of MD 4.
MD 4 Mainline and Thomas Johnson Bridge, St. Mary’s County, April 2015
  • A new four-lane parallel bridge would be built with two northbound and two southbound lanes.
  • Wide outside shoulders would accommodate disabled, emergency and repair vehicles./li>
  • A bicycle/pedestrian path would be located on the south side of the bridge, separated by a concrete barrier.
MD 4 Mainline Improvements, Calvert County, April 2015:
  • MD 4 would be widened into the existing open grass median to provide a four-foot-wide inside shoulder in each direction from north of the Patuxent River crossing to the MD 4/Patuxent Point Parkway intersection.
  • A new right-in/right-out access point for MD 4 northbound/Solomons Island Road would be provided at a location approximately 1,000 feet north of the closed access.
  • The remaining access points along MD 4 would not be altered.

Q: 

What is the current condition of the bridge?

A: 

Bridges are rated on a scale of 0 to 9, with “9” being highest, and “0” being lowest.  The bridge substructure (portion below the water), superstructure (portion above the water), and deck (roadway surface) are rated separately. When the bridge was last inspected in Fall 2013, the bridge components received the following condition ratings:

  • Substructure: “6” (satisfactory condition)
  • Superstructure: “5” (fair condition)
  • Deck: “6“ (satisfactory condition)
The bridge remains structurally sound.    There are no changes in ratings from the 2011 inspection.  The Thomas Johnson Bridge will continue to be inspected at two-year intervals.

Q: 

How high will the new Thomas Johnson Bridge be?

A: 

The SHA Selected Alternative provides a bridge height range of 70 feet to 140 feet over the Patuxent River channel. The project team coordinated with the US Navy, US Coast Guard, upstream marinas, river users, and property owners to determine the height requirements for a new bridge. The exact height of the new bridge will be determined in the Final Design stage and will be coordinated with project stakeholders.

Q: 

What would the new bridge look like?

A: 

The design of the bridge has not been decided at this stage of project development. If a build alternative is selected, the "look" of the bridge would be determined in the Final Design stage and will be coordinated with project stakeholders.

Q: 

Why would the new bridge be built on the south side of the existing bridge, not the north side?

A: 

Preliminary findings indicated that building a new span to the north of the existing bridge would result in greater property and environmental impacts, a larger number of potential displacements, and higher costs than building a similar span to the south.

Q: 

Which improvements will be built first?

A: 

Major transportation projects are completed in phases as funds become available for Final Design, Right-of-way Acquisition and Construction. Funding is in place to begin Final Design for the Thomas Johnson Bridge portion of the project. Other components of the project will proceed as project funds become available.

Q: 

How is this project coordinating with the use of the bridge as an evacuation route?

A: 

SHA is committed to coordinating with all agencies regarding safety and evacuation of those who reside within Calvert County during emergency situations.  The project team is aware that the MD 4 corridor is included in regional evacuation plans.  SHA's Preferred Alternative provides additional traffic capacity across the Patuxent River, which would facilitate evacuation in an emergency situation.


 
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