County pushes back potential heavy haul
Proposed plant equipment trip through Benedict delayed to September
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.