Landown­ers briefed on plans to widen Rt. 5

More than 30 in south county need to be paid by state for pro­ject near Pt. Look­out park

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JOHN WHARTON jwhar­ton@somd­

Aerial pho­to­graphs of a two-mile stretch of Route 5 in south­ern St. Mary’s gave ad­ja­cent prop­erty own­ers a bird’s-eye view last week of the state’s pro­posal to widen the road by pur­chas­ing strips of their land, and an op­por­tu­nity to voice their dis­plea­sure.

Much of the farm­land tar­geted for ac­qui­si­tion by the state be­longs to mem­bers of the Tross­bach fam­ily, who at­tended Thurs­day evening’s pre­sen­ta­tion at the Ridge fire­house by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“It’s not go­ing to do me too bad on the pro­duce stand” the fam­ily runs there, Ge­orge “Ju­nior” Tross­bach of St. Ini­goes said, but “I want to know why they can’t take land they al­ready own [on the other side of the high­way] in­stead of my land.”

About 50 peo­ple at­tended the gather­ing, where other com­ments be­fore the for­mal pre­sen­ta­tion also delved into who would ben­e­fit the most from widen­ing the travel lanes, adding paved shoul­ders and mak­ing other up­grades. The planned work along Route 5 starts near the in­ter­sec­tion with Camp

Brown Road and con­tin­ues into Point Look­out State Park, where vis­i­tors ar­rive with their recre­ational ve­hi­cles mainly dur­ing the sum­mer, and pay fees to state em­ploy­ees.

“They’re wor­ried about the RVs, three months out of the year,” Jes­sica Gat­ton, Tross­bach’s daugh­ter, said. “A lot of them aren’t even Mary­land res­i­dents.”

The farm sup­ports three fam­i­lies, Gat­ton said, and tak­ing a 10-foot-wide strip of farm­land amounts to 60 acres on each side of the high­way. “It adds up. Ev­ery foot counts,” she said, adding that if the pro­ject takes park­ing spa­ces used by their pro­duce stand’s cus­tomers, it would cost at least $30,000 to re­lo­cate the stand.

The state is seek­ing bid­ders to take on “the ap­praisal as­sign­ment” to help de­ter­mine how much will be paid to the af­fected pri­vate prop­erty own­ers, and Ka­mala Alexan­der, a pro­ject team mem­ber, said there are “30 to 35” of them.

Vir­ginia Col­lier, the pro­ject man­ager, told at­ten­dees that the paved shoul­ders would be an im­prove­ment over the ditches that now bor­der the travel lanes.

“We’re try­ing to im­prove the traf­fic and the safety along the cor­ri­dor,” Col­lier said. “It’s go­ing to be eas­ier to turn into drive­ways.”

Col­lier ac­knowl­edged that “ground­wa­ter’s pretty high here,” and that even im­proved ditches could over­fill. “We deal with the road,” she said, “but we’ll raise the is­sue with the other agen­cies.”

The right-of-way ac­qui­si­tions are sched­uled to be- gin be­fore win­ter, ac­cord­ing to an SHA mail­ing, with con­struc­tion tar­geted to be­gin a year from now and be fin­ished by the fall of 2021.

Col­lier called the pro­jected three-year con­struc­tion pe­riod a “worst-case sce­nario,” af­ter telling the au­di­ence, “This pro­ject is on its way.”

Mar­garet Padukiewicz of Scot­land said af­ter the pre­sen­ta­tion that she and her hus­band ride bi­cy­cles in the area.

“Any­thing that’s go­ing to be safe is good. Safety is very im­por­tant,” Padukiewicz said, adding that “we want to make sure the [long­time res­i­dents af­fected by the pro­ject] are prop­erly com­pen­sated, and com­fort­able with what’s hap­pen­ing.”


A pro­posal to widen Route 5 in south­ern St. Mary’s would re­quire buy­ing strips of land from ad­join­ing prop­erty own­ers.

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