A plan to realign Butterfly Lane that has been discussed for years took a big step forward last week when the Frederick Board of Aldermen approved $7.5 million to begin construction this spring.
The contract will task Kinsley Construction Inc. with terminating the existing Butterfly Lane in a T-turnaround at Acropolis Way and installing a roundabout where Himes Avenue dead-ends on Butterfly to allow Himes to extend from that intersection roughly 2,000 feet across the Hargett Farm property. The Himes Avenue extension will then exit onto Jefferson Pike at the First Missionary Baptist Church after meeting with what is now Swallowtail Drive. The goal of the project is to increase the distance between back-to-back traffic lights on Butterfly just west of the bridge carrying Jefferson over U.S. 15, said Tracy Coleman, deputy director of the Frederick Department of Public Works.
“Both the city and state recognize that the current intersection of Butterfly [and Jefferson], one, the road is narrow close to the intersection, so it’s very, very challenging [and] traffic backs up there,” Coleman said at the board’s regular public hearing March 21. “... Secondly, it’s too close to the existing intersection with Himes and the offramp, so there’s a safety issue with that existing intersection being too close.”
Southbound traffic from Himes onto Jefferson would consist of a right-turn lane and two left-turn lanes, as well as a single inbound lane allowing traffic north from Jefferson Pike onto Himes, according to Coleman’s description of the plan.
Another component funded under the plan includes extending Contender Way, a two-lane open road, from where it currently ends at the southeast entrance of Butterfly Ridge Elementary School, south and east to a new intersection with the planned Himes Avenue extension.
Finally, the Contender Way construction will also include an off-shooting parking lot — the only lot left of several included in earlier versions of the plan — that will serve a planned playground in Westside Regional Park, which will one day be constructed on the Hargett Farm property.
All five board members voted in favor of the project March 21, but Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, after expressing her satisfaction to see the project progress, asked Coleman whether the fate of the other parking lots was set in stone.
“I understand at the very beginning we were hoping to maybe get some extra parking lots with this money, that was not to be, [but] if there is some funding that doesn’t get used for the other things, we will automatically build [those] other parking lots, correct?” Kuzemchak asked.
Coleman agreed that money saved on the project could find its way toward funding more parking, but reiterated that the northern parking lot was still in the plan.
The discussion regarding realigning Butterfly Lane was discussed at least as far back as late 2014, when the then-Board of Aldermen began looking for ways to fund a similar, albeit less extensive, plan to move back the intersection between Butterfly and Jefferson to Swallowtail Drive.
The board approved funding to design the current plan in August 2017 and, with this latest approval, the construction company could receive a notice to proceed with construction sometime this month, Coleman told the aldermen last week. Preliminary estimates from Kinsley Construction indicate the work could be completed by November 2020, Coleman said.