The slumbering St. Mary’s City streetscape project appears to be awakening from hibernation. The project which has been on the drawing board for quite a while was last heard from two years ago when construction, secured by a $1 million federal grant, was about to start. It apparently became bogged down in state bureaucracy. The State Highway Administration was administering the grant.

In December a contract was awarded for the project that includes “traffic calming and safety improvements” on Route 5 through the St. Mary’s College campus. All that is keeping the project from proceeding this spring is approval of the contract by the state. Low bidder was W.M. Davis, Inc. of Leonardtown.

What was different in a project update for the community on March 11 is that funding has also been secured for a second phase which earlier was just a blimp on the radar. St. Mary’s College Associate VP of Planning and Facilities Daniel Branian told the audience at the briefing at St. Mary’s Hall that a $1.7 million Federal Highway Administration grant has been secured to construct a trail along Route 5 and a bridge over Fisher’s Creek to connect with the North Field parking area.

That pedestrian route is used especially during the River Concert Series, yet the current shoulder of Route 5 is very narrow and when it crosses the bridge virtually nonexistent, creating a safety hazard for walkers. The project will include a bridge over the creek for pedestrian traffic to avoid the road.

Branian said the federal grant requires a $435,000 match either from the college or the state. He said the college was prepared to make the match if other sources couldn’t be found. Construction could become a reality in FY 2016.

Meanwhile the streetscape project ready to begin has three sections:

·       The north end features a road reconstruction project to widen the pavement to 34 feet, create a five-foot bike lane, a rain garden, brick sidewalks, “brick-look” concrete crosswalks, 18-foot campus light poles and the realignment of the Trinity Church Road intersection.

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