St. Mary's County Department of Public Works and Transportation -
Development and Review Division - Road Development
“Mattapany Path”, the first County road from St. Mary’s City to the
Legislation enacted the construction of a highway “passable for horse
and foote over such place of Zechiah swamp” (present MD RTE 234).
Creation of a road from Point Lookout to the northern part of the
County was referred to as the “Patuxent main road.”
Justices of the County Court were empowered to record all “publick
roads” and to appoint overseers to ensure the roads were “hereafter
clear’d and wll Grubbd fitt for traveling twenty foott wide.” Roads
were also to be kept clear of all obstructions 15 feet above the
surface of the road for carriages, carts and horsemen. The specified
road width was twenty (20) feet.
Legislation standardized road construction and identification. The
system of notching trees to identify roads resulted in “Patuxent main
road” becoming Three Notch Road.
Dennis Griffith’s Map of Maryland shows two main roads running the
length of St. Mary’s County from the Charles County border to Ridge,
with the two roads merging into one from Ridge to Point Lookout.
Levy Justices of the County created road districts and appointed road
overseers for each section of roads.
The County was formally laid out into fourteen (14) road districts.
St. Mary’s County Courthouse fire destroyed the administrative
archives of the St. Mary’s County Justices pertaining to roads during
the 18th century.
County Commissioners first granted permission to “close the Old Road”
and to adopt a new road as a public road in lieu of the old road
formerly in use.
The bridge over the St. Mary’s River at Great Mills was completed in
An Act “…to provide a road system” for the County was enacted. The law
also provided that a salaried County Superintendent of Roads be
appointed by the County Commissioners for a three (3) year term.
The law provided for the repairs of the public roads and the creation
of a county road book. Repairs were allowed within fifteen feet of the
center of the road, and to straighten all roads where it could be done
with the consents of adjoining land-owners.
County Commissioners imposed a levy on all assessable county property
to pay for the public roads.
$3,500 was allotted for repairs to public roads by the County
Commissioners. Notice was published warning against throwing weeds,
briars etc. in the public road.
County Commissioners required all fences, gates and obstructions be
removed from the public roads.
St. Mary’s Beacon Letter to the Editor…bemoaned the excessive number
of road supervisors and labeled the $7.50 per day which those
supervisors were paid as “highway robbery”.
It was ordered that the County Commissioners be advised as to the most
suitable routes and materials to be used for County roads.
State Aid Road Fund was made available to Counties. St. Mary’s County
had 602 miles of roads to maintain and received $7,789.85 of the
The State Roads Commission was created-introducing “state” roads
terminology . The first County automobile accident was reported in
First State Roads Commission construction project was in
Mechanicsville. Award was based on a bid price of $10,000 per mile. On
Mechanicsville Helen Road, layers of tar and stone placed onto the
surface of a gravel bed which was rounded in the middle and drained to
Leonardtown recorded it’s first automobile accident. There was a
problem with speeding. Only about one-fourth of St. Mary’s County
roads were graded.
Act establishing U.S. Mail Routes and construction of rural post roads
Legal speed limits were established: 25 mph on the open highway; 12
mph in sections with two or more houses in sight of one another and 6
mph in towns and villages. A 50 horsepower, 7 passenger touring car
with electric lights and starter sold for $1,925.
$2,050 was spent by St. Mary’s County for maintenance of roads within,
the then, the five election districts.
Law stipulated that a road inspector position be created in each
Starting July 1, Semmes Motor Line began operating public buses
between Leonardtown and Washington. The fare was $3.00 one way or
$4.50 round trip.
The application of loose gravel to the State road from Ridge to Point
Lookout was awarded at a bid price of $8,923.66.
BOCC obtains legislative authority to erect “road sign boards which
shall be a hand pointing toward one town or place…together with the
name of places and number of miles apart…in large enough type to be
seen by travelers not less than 50 yards away”—This was subsequently
repealed in 1941.1915
Thomas Al Ridgell started a public bus service between Scotland and
Leonardtown called the Scotland Motor Line. The fare was $1.00 either
Law authorized the County Commissioners to issue $200,000 in road
bonds for construction and repair of public roads and bridges in an
amount not to exceed $50,000 per year.
Reconstruction of MD RTE 246 was begun.
199.7 miles of State roads and 530 miles of County roads were
maintained by the State.
The Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge was opened in January.
On July 1, St. Mary’s County assumed routine highway maintenance
responsibilities for it’s own roadways.
In Maryland, typically, 70% of the roads are County maintained, 22%
State maintained and 8% are privately maintained.