Originally, Drew said, the crew, coming out of Aqualand Marina in Newburg, was going to use U.S. 301 before using the Mattawoman Creek Bridge and the Timothy Branch Bridge to cross into Prince George’s County. However, he said, the state had safety concerns with that route and the traffic coming across the bridge.
The state determined Roll-Lift could come through Pinefield as a way to get into the county while avoiding the bridges, Drew said. The area is prime for the shipment because the telephone wires are underground and not obstructing the path through Prince George’s County.
“We were asked by the state to consider this path. We have gone through an execution feasibility study and we’re comfortable that it can be achieved,” Drew said. “We’re talking from a technical standpoint, but not whether the neighbors can handle it.”
Bob Murray, a member of the Pinefield Civic Association, said the community is concerned because no one knew about the project until “two or three” weeks ago and the county has not consulted the citizens on what they want to happen.
“We don’t want this stuff coming through our neighborhood. We can handle the noise and even the lights, but the property damage is our biggest concern,” Murray said.
There is also the concern that some residents who have mailboxes in the way may have to have their mailboxes removed to provide room for the loads. Cars and some lamp posts may also need to me removed, Murray said.
County Commissioner Amanda Stewart (D), who represents District 3 where Pinefield is located, said she does not support Roll-Lift going through Pinefield and would like for them to search for an alternative route.
“Just as the residents, I’m concerned about this type of haul coming through a neighborhood,” Stewart said. “That’s the difference here. It goes through a neighborhood.”
Stewart said she found out about the plan to come through Pinefield on March 19 when she was approached by Pine- field residents. Roll-Lift has not entered the permitting process just yet and no papers have been submitted requesting permission to go through Pinefield.
Drew said the road, which is 20 feet and 6 inches wide, will not require the removal of any property such as mailboxes. Some trees may need to be pruned, he said, but there will not be substantial damage and the company would provide professional tree pruners to shape the plants.
The trailers are 163 feet long and about 18 feet wide, Drew said, and would not expand through the capacity of the street. There will be a “dry run” conducted through the neighborhood prior to shipping the equipment, he said. Roll-Lift records dry runs to ensure accuracy before any path is taken, he said.
Citizens will be provided advanced notice, Drew said, in the coming weeks before the operation starts. Roll-Lift will look into hiring Boy and Girl Scout troops to go through the community to supplement their on-the-ground canvasing efforts, he said. There will also be a safe space for cars to park in the community away from the path.
The county roads in Pinefield are built for simple community traffic, not big, heavy loads of equipment, Joseph Sobnosky, president of the Pinefield Civic Association, said. A “few months or a year” from now, he said, the road could have infrastructure problems as a result from the work and nothing may be done about it.
The county has a capital improvements schedule that Pinefield would likely be at the bottom of, Sobnosky said. The traditional response for requests to the county Sobnosky is used to, he said, is that the county “doesn’t have the money for it.”
“We’re going to be stuck with whatever happens here,” Sobnosky said.
The shipment will arrive at Aqualand Marina, come up U.S. 301 and make a right on Mattawoman-Beantown Road and then make a left onto Pinefield Road into the neighborhood.
From Pinefield Road they will make a left on Pinewood Drive and will go to St. Peter’s Church Road and out of the neighborhood until they get to Prince George’s County.
“That’s right through the middle of our neighborhood,” Sobnosky said. “That disturbs me.”
Andy Phillips, a State Highway Administration inspector, said it is impossible for the heavy loads to go over bridges that may not sustain their weight. There are not many options for the state to consider, he said.
Phillips said if the load were to come out U.S. 301 or Route 5, the bridges would have to be layered each time a load comes down the route. Stewart said she understands the process may be lengthy using that route but she hopes “that alternative or another alternative” would be used rather than Pinefield.
Any solution going through a neighborhood or preventing working citizens from going to work and getting where they need to be is not something she will support, Stewart said.
“We need to make sure we keep our residents in mind and keep their safety in mind along with our roads,” Stewart said.
Ultimately, Drew said, Roll-Lift has a job to do, but they do not want to do any damage in the community or to the people who live in it. The community’s concerns are warranted and they have valid questions, he said.
“We’re here to be a good neighbor,” Drew said.