Whether to the Eastern Shore or the grocery store, Maryland drivers have a new tool for planning their trips around road construction projects.
The State Highway Administration recently released a website that uses Global Information Systems technology to provide information about ongoing road projects, and lets residents search by entering their address or other information to find projects close to them.
Previously, the agency would put out information on projects before Memorial Day, then update around the middle of the summer, SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said.
Gischlar said the new site lets them update information on projects much more frequently.
“We can do this in almost real time, here,” he said.
The site contains information on about 165 projects around the state. Some short-term projects that are scheduled to take only a few days aren’t included, but longer-term projects are, Gischlar said.
It includes information on 14 projects in Frederick County, one of the largest numbers in the state.
The projects includes projects such as interchange construction at U.S. 15 and Monocacy Boulevard, a resurfacing project on U.S. 340 near Knoxville, and a bridge replacement on Md. 140 over Flat Run in Emmitsburg.
Users can click on a project’s icon to get information such as the start date and completion date, the average volume of traffic, the speed limit in the area, any news releases about the project, and, for some projects, a Google Street View shot of the site.
The administration believes the extra information will help drivers.
“Hopefully, it will get people from Point A to Point B a little quicker,” Gischlar said.
The SHA website may be able to guide drivers around some of the larger projects that the county hopes to see in future years.
Planning Director Jim Gugel briefed the Frederick County Council on the county’s transportation priorities in April.
State Sen. Ron Young (D-District 2) and delegates Karen Lewis Young (D-District 3A) and Carol Krimm (D-District 3A) discussed the priorities Thursday at Winchester Hall.
The priorities include securing construction funding for the section of U.S. 15 through Frederick, from Interstate 70 to Md. 26; expanding Md. 194 in Walkersville; and widening Md. 85 from Spectrum Drive to Guilford Drive in Frederick.
Among longer-term goals, Ron Young said he hoped the county was preserving rights of way for Metro or some other type of transit model to come up to Frederick from Montgomery County.
Even though the project probably wouldn’t take place for some time, the rights of way need to be considered when the county is making plans.
The county is doing as much as it can to protect rights of way, although Monocacy National Battlefield could be a significant issue for a project, Gugel said.
Young also said he’d like to see weekend MARC train traffic from Washington to Frederick. Even one train per day would greatly help tourism in the city, but more would be helpful, he said.