Application for new heavy haul transport filed
Loads for Brandywine power plant could be coming through Benedict
After failing to get the heavy equipment hauls needed for construction at the Keyes Power Plant in Brandywine moved through Pinefield, another area in Charles County is being considered for the move.
Lockwood Brothers Inc., a heavy lift and transport company, filed an application with Charles County on June 2 to move the same heavy load of materials through Benedict Village and on to Route 231 before ultimately reaching Brandywine Road where the Keyes Power Plant site is located.
Bill Henderson, a citizen living in Benedict Village where the load will initially begin its journey, said individuals in Benedict do not want to see this come through their village and living space.
Just last week, when the permit was submitted to the county, Henderson said, the county sent out a letter stating they received the permit and were looking into the route.
“There has been no official public hearing on this. Things were quiet and then they hit us with this,” Henderson said. “We really don’t want to see this happen.”
The county seems to be trying to get the load through and into Prince George’s County “one way or another,” Henderson said.
Aside from a community public meeting where the applicant, state officials, county officials including County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D), and local residents discussed the matter, there had been no talk before receiving the letter about the load coming through Benedict.
“The process for determining the inclusion of a public hearing depends on whether there are county or state law requirements for the particular issue,” Charles County Attorney Rhonda
Weaver told the Independent. “For example, with the
Comprehensive Plan, there are requirements for a public hearing specified in the law. There is no requirement in the law for a public hearing for the county’s heavy haul permit process.”
The route will start at Mill Creek Road in Benedict, move onto Route 231, move to Route 5 northbound, turn on Gallant Green Road, move onto Woodville Road before hitting Malcolm Road.
After that, the load will move to Horsehead Road before ultimately hitting its delivery point at Brandywine Road.
Robinson said the county did meet with the community and he sat in on the meeting.
Not everyone in the initial meeting was against the project, he said.
Originally, the company was going to be forced to use U.S. 301 to move the load into Brandywine. However, Robinson said, the route would have been a “longer traffic tie up.” The applicant suggested Benedict as a starting point, he said, and that prompted the meeting between the county, state and community.
“What I told them was that this is not a done deal and they had to go through the permitting process,” Robinson said. “This is pretty significant, and it’s not guaranteed that they’re going to pass that process.”
The county’s roads department is currently vetting the roads to ensure they are stable enough to hold the load.
Peter Aluotto, the director of Planning and Growth Management for Charles County, said the review process is still ongoing for the county.
The criteria considered for the application includes, but is not limited to, temporary land uses, public safety, environmental impacts, infrastructure impacts, traffic control, utility, project time and duration, Aluotto said.
Intergovernmental coordination is also important, Aluotto said.
“Permits must be obtained from both the State of Maryland and Charles County,” Aluotto said. “If granted, all permit conditions must be strictly adhered to.”
Charlie Gishler, a public information officer for the State Highway Administration, said Lockwood Brothers Inc. and the state are working on traffic planning for the use of Route 231.
The load will weigh, at most, 900,000 pounds, Gischlar said. The state has found that Route 231, which is a two lane road, is suitable for the move. A jump bridge would be added to the roadway to decrease the potential for damage to the roadways.
“There will be a jump bridge associated with the move,” Gischlar said. “We have helped accommodate these types of loads with weights up to 1 million pounds and the roads were not damaged.”
Plus the roadway has very few turns, Gischlar said, which is a positive when moving such heavy loads.
Henderson said many people in the community do not want their property and roads to be damaged, but Robinson said not many people’s property is going to be affected. And the company has worked out deals with many people who could potentially be affected already.
““Our biggest concern is [whether] our county roads in Benedict [can] handle the weight. And that’s why we’re determining it through the engineering reports and permitting process,” Robinson said.
The county is also requiring the applicant to provide insurance bonds to the county for any damage that may be done, Robinson said.
Aluotto said, as a general matter, citizens can express their concerns by contacting the Department of Planning and Growth Management.
If the project were to be approved, Robinson said, the process would be only on Monday through Thursday evenings from about 8 p.m. to 9 p.m in Benedict.
Dan Clark, a Lockwood Brothers project manager for the haul, was contacted several times by phone for this story but did not respond to requests for comment.