Street Lighting and Traffic Signals
On November 27, 1984 the St. Mary’s County Commissioners adopted Draft Subdivision Lighting Policies which described the various methods of providing lighting in the County. Although the County does not have a formal street lighting program, funding has been provided to initiate numerous improvement projects, to include safety/ security lighting and the installation of vandal-proof fixtures. Good visibility under day or night conditions is one of the fundamental requirements enabling motorists and pedestrians to move safely along roadways and within neighborhood communities. Lighting of rural roadways may be desirable but the need for it is much less than on streets and highways in urban areas. Proposed lighting may be installed by the SMECO as a change order to their existing street lighting contract. The respective annual service charge varies in accordance to the type of light (metal halide, mercury vapor etc.), illumination requirements (8,000-12,000 or 20,000 lumens) and extent of work needed as per SMECO’s approved Fee Schedule. Refer to the Policy and Guidelines for Street and Security Lighting.
Street lighting installation costs can range anywhere between $2,500 and $4,900 or more per light, depending on the adequacy / availability of existing transformers, proximity to adequate power supply, extent of trenching or boring needed, the presence of existing utility poles that could be readily retrofitted with light fixtures, and whether the proposed lighting is in a location that would require vandal-proofing fixtures (estimated additional cost of $600- $1,000 per light). The anticipated annual electric costs are about $20/month/light.
If Your Street Lights Are Not Working
The majority of street lights along county roads are maintained by the Southern Maryland Electrical Cooperative (SMECO); please report any outages to SMECO's Contact Center at 888-440-3311. Someone is always available at this number. In many instances, Homeowners Associations, Apartment Complexes, and Shopping Centers maintain their own street lights, and those organizations should be contacted directly. In other areas, it may be possible that the County Department of Public Works & Transportation or the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) owns and maintains the street lights. For example, St. Mary's County maintains the street lights on Md Route 235 in downtown Lexington Park, as well as lights along Tulagi Place, South Coral Place, South Shangri-la Drive, South Essex Drive between South Shangri-la Drive & MD Route 246, and FDR Boulevard south of MD Route 246. The SHA maintains street lights at traffic signal locations and some isolated intersections. If you cannot determine who is responsible for a particular light, please feel free to contact the Department of Public Works & Transportation at 301-863-8400.
According to AASHTO, the general consensus is that lighting of rural highways seldom is justified except on certain critical portions, such as intersections, sharp curves, areas where roadside interference is a factor, railroad grade crossings and narrow or long bridges. Whether or not rural roadways should be lighted also depends on the geometric layout, pedestrian/vehicular traffic volumes involved and night-to-day accident ratios. Determinations of need for lighting should also be coordinated with crime prevention programs and other community needs.
Street Lighting Taxing Districts
Individual communities or homeowner associations, by majority petition to the Commissioners of St. Mary's County, may request a Special Taxing District be created. Following the communities acknowledgment of the costs, the drafting of an Ordinance and a formal public hearing streetlights may be designed, installed and perpetually maintained. Only those individuals benefiting from the service/amenity would be annually assessed the respective costs. This Department encourages citizens to contract directly with Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SMECO) for both installation and energy cost reimbursement. The Department has an informational copy of SMECO’s current installation costs and monthly assessment charges. Interested parties may contact SMECO, at (301) 475-5631 to initiate their request. Refer to the Policy and Guidelines for Street and Security Lighting
The County Highways Division currently pays a portion of the operating costs for numerous signalized intersections within the County; the majority of which are located along the corridors of Maryland State Routes 235 and 246. The selection and use of a signal as a traffic control device requires a thorough engineering study of roadway and traffic conditions, volumes, speed, capacity, and accident history to name a few. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices outlines a series of eleven (11) “warrants” that define the minimum conditions under which the installation of a signal may be justified. Traffic control signals should not be installed unless one or more of the signal warrants are met. Requests for evaluation along a County-maintained roadway are submitted to the Commissioners of St. Mary's County or the Department of Public Works and Transportation. For State-maintained highways inquiries should be directed to the State Highway Administration at (410) 841-5450.