- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The St. Mary’s County commissioners agreed Tuesday to buy three more properties for $75,300 to build a piece of FDR Boulevard — a county road running parallel to Route 235 from California to Lexington Park.
The majority of the board also agreed at a Monday budget meeting to keep the county road project moving forward, despite objections from Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R), a longtime opponent of building FDR Boulevard. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.
Twenty-eight properties will be impacted by construction plans for FDR Boulevard between St. Andrew’s Church Road (Route 4) and Chancellor’s Run Road (Route 237), said George Erichsen, director of the department of public works and transportation. With Tuesday’s agreement, 20 have been secured with eight properties to go. Four of those are in a homeowners association in the Hickory Hills neighborhood.
“We’re right on target, right on track,” he said, in having the necessary properties by July 1.
St. Mary’s County government has almost $4 million budgeted for land acquisition and $24.7 million total to build the 3.7-mile-long road from California to Lexington Park. Once the road is built to Chancellor’s Run Road, plans call for it to be extended to Buck Hewitt Road and then to Pegg Road in later years.
The neighborhood road could divert 10,000 vehicles a day off of Route 235, county staff said.
The current budget has $6 million in fiscal 2015 for road construction from the First Colony development to Chancellor’s Run Road. Erichsen said the road project is scheduled to go out to construction bid in the fall with work expected to start in spring 2015.
Jarboe cited recent testimony from Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) that Patuxent River Naval Air Station could see a reduction of 1,000 jobs annually from Department of Defense cuts. Jarboe, who is a Republican candidate for state senate, asked if it’s time to delay FDR Boulevard by a year since there could be fewer people at the Navy base.
“Commissioner Jarboe and I have disagreed on this since Day One,” Morgan said of FDR Boulevard. “We still have 20,000 people a day going up and down those gates” at Pax River, Morgan said. With the rapid growth of St. Mary’s County and the Southern Maryland region, the road is necessary for the Lexington Park Development District, he said, and “to continue to kick the can down the court doesn’t work.”
“I’d like to see us stay the course and get the project done,” Commission President Jack Russell (D) said.
“I think we’re right where we need to be. I don’t see any need to change course,” Commissioner Cindy Jones (R) said. Jones, like Jarboe, is also seeking her party’s nomination for the state senate in the June 24 primary election.
Commissioner Dan Morris (R), who is not seeking a second term, said, “I would be more inclined to wait and see” on building FDR Boulevard, but said he supports the land acquisition for the right of way. “We should move slowly and cautiously,” he said.
“We’re thankful so far it’s stayed in” the capital budget, Erichsen said.
Developers have built pieces of FDR Boulevard as required by St. Mary’s County government. The county’s project will connect those segments.
A smaller piece of FDR Boulevard is about to be completed from Great Mills Road to South Shangri-La Drive in Lexington Park, built by county government for $1.1 million.