County pushes back po­ten­tial heavy haul

Pro­posed plant equip­ment trip through Bene­dict de­layed to Septem­ber

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­

Bene­dict cit­i­zens sit­ting on the edge of their seats await­ing the re­sults of a road and in­fra­struc­ture fea­si­bil­ity study for a po­ten­tial heavy haul through Bene­dict will have to con­tinue to wait.

Charles County’s study was sched­uled to be com­pleted by late June into early July but is still not com­plete, and Lock­wood Brothers Inc. must wait un­til mid to late Septem­ber, at least, be­fore any po­ten­tial move can be made.

Com­mis­sioner Ken Robin­son (D), who rep­re­sents District 1 which in­cludes those res­i­dents in Bene­dict, said “this is not a done deal” at this point. The county could de­cide to go in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion, he said.

Lock­wood Brothers sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion to the county in early June re­quest­ing a per­mit to move heavy ma­te­rial, at most weigh­ing 900,000 pounds ac­cord­ing to Char­lie Gis­chlar, a spokesman for the Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion,

from Bene­dict to Brandy­wine be­fore fi­nally reach­ing the Keys En­ergy Power Plant and Mat­ta­woman Power Plant in Prince Ge­orge’s County.

This is a “very com­pli­cated project,” Robin­son said, and mak­ing sure it is done cor­rectly, if it will in­deed be done at all, he said, is more im­por­tant than mak­ing a de­ci­sion as soon as pos­si­ble.

“The process is tak­ing longer than we an­tic­i­pated,” Robin­son said. “It’s a process and we want to make sure that there are no un­in­tended con­se­quences here. We want to make sure it is done right.”

The project is al­ready ap­proved for state roads along the path, in­clud­ing Route 231 and Route 5, Gis­chlar said. There will be a jump bridge re­quired along the path, he said, but that can be pro­vided by the state.

Donna Daugh­erty, a high­way en­gi­neer with the county’s depart­ment of plan­ning and growth man­age­ment, said the county is re­quir­ing Lock­wood Brothers to con­tract with a geotech­ni­cal en­gi­neer to do pave­ment core sam­pling along the roads of the haul route to an­a­lyze how it will hold up.

“That en­gi­neer is in the mid­dle of pre­par­ing the re­port,” Daugh­erty said. “We don’t have the fi­nal re­port but I un­der­stand that we should get it soon.”

The county has no in­di­ca­tion what the re­port will say or how the roads will with­stand the weight, but once the re­port comes back there should be a bet­ter pic­ture.

If the re­port finds that the haul would cause a prob­lem, Daugh­erty said the com­pany would have to look into whether it could be re­me­di­ated.

“If it’s go­ing to cause a prob­lem, [they would have to ex­plain] how they would have to im­prove the road to make sure it could take the load,” Daugh­erty said. “We don’t know what it’s go­ing to be.”

Be­cause the re­port is not back, Robin­son said, the county was forced to push the po­ten­tial date for the haul back. Daugh­erty said they ex­pected to have the re­port back by now and have an up­date for cit­i­zens.

The county does not have to pay for the work the en­gi­neer does, Daugh­erty said, and will re­view the re­port along with Lock­wood Bros. to make sure it is ac­cu­rate.

Bill Hen­der­son, a res­i­dent in Bene­dict, said the com­mu­nity does not want the move to hap­pen no mat­ter when it hap­pens. There has been an out­cry from cit­i­zens in Bene­dict ex­press­ing their dis­plea­sure with the county, but their voices have not been heard, Hen­der­son said.

“I do not be­lieve the county cares what the cit­i­zens of Bene­dict want,” Hen­der­son said. “They’re go­ing through with this re­gard­less.”

Be­cause the county does not have to hold pub­lic hear­ings on the heavy haul, Hen­der­son said, the cit­i­zens have been left in the dark through­out the process. There has not been an up­date on the sit­u­a­tion for them, he said.

Hen­der­son said the cit­i­zens put to­gether a pe­ti­tion and a let­ter ad­dressed to county com­mis­sion­ers and county staff and have also re­quested an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact study from the county on the area to gauge the po­ten­tial ef­fects from the haul, but said there has been no re­sponse as of yet.

In the let­ter, Am­ber Wargo, an­other res­i­dent of Bene­dict, said bring­ing the heavy haul through Bene­dict and block­ing the en­trance to the vil­lage from Route 231 pre­vents egress and ingress of traf­fic to homes in the neigh­bor­hood.

Prince Fred­er­ick Road is also an emer­gency evac­u­a­tion route, she said, and block­ing it off would present a dan­ger in it­self.

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