- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
It would be presumptuous and foolhardy to forecast how the events of 2013 will play out. Instead, here are some predictions of what will not happen this year.
A replacement for the Gov. Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge crossing the Patuxent River has been near the top of Southern Maryland’s list of transportation needs for years. But construction will not begin in 2013.
Ditto for a replacement for the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge crossing the Potomac in Charles County.
Money has been spent planning both replacement bridges, but there will not be a single dollar spent to move a single shovelful of dirt this year, and perhaps for years to come. The state has scheduled no money for construction.
Speaking of highway construction projects that have been discussed and planned for many years, the grandaddy of them all in St. Mary’s County, FDR Boulevard, won’t be built in 2013 either. Oh, construction of about 1,000 feet of roadway bearing that name, running from Great Mills Road through the site of an old topless bar to South Shangri-La Drive in Lexington Park, is due to begin in the spring.
But the main stem of FDR Boulevard, which is supposed to run uninterrupted from near Gate 1 of Patuxent River Naval Air Station to Route 4, will remain a collection of disjointed pieces. Construction to link some of those pieces could begin as early as 2014. St. Mary’s County Commissioner Larry Jarboe has opposed construction of FDR and won’t be in favor of it then either.
There also won’t be a new Leonardtown library this year. Plans for that were killed by the county commissioners in 2011.
Among the arguments Jarboe and County Commissioner Dan Morris made for opposing the new library when they were running for office was that local government needed to enlarge the county jail and couldn’t afford to do both.
Speaking of the county jail, construction of an expansion was due to start in 2013. It won’t. Jarboe, Morris and Commissioner Cindy Jones killed that project when bids came in more than $7 million higher than expected.
Here’s a welcome forecast for this year: Patuxent River Naval Air Station will not close. The base was commissioned in 1943 —70 years ago — and normally its continued presence in St. Mary’s wouldn’t be worth mentioning. But the dithering as last year ended and Congress couldn’t agree how to back away from the “fiscal cliff’ trap it set for itself injected a note of uncertainty into anything the federal government touches.
But Pax River’s location, expertise and work to develop, test and evaluate cutting-edge aircraft provide at least some protection from the still uncertain cuts in military spending.
So finally there’s this prediction — 2013 won’t bring calamity to St. Mary’s County. But since Congress can’t behave responsibly a local economy heavily dependent on federal spending will be unsettled. Because of that, local government won’t act to build public facilities and infrastructure that will be needed in the future.