Prince George’s County officials will commit $11 million toward repairing a road damaged by a slope failure in Fort Washington, but unless they receive additional funds from the state, the affected homes may not be safe enough for residents to occupy.
A 1,500-foot section of the slope bordering Piscataway Drive slid May 4 after heavy rain saturated a layer of soil particularly susceptible to sliding when saturated. The landslide damaged utilities and forced 28 families to evacuate their homes. Many of these families have returned to their homes and have access to water through a temporary water line.
Piscataway Drive resident Rita Donaldson, who has lived in her home for 41 years, said she has access to water and electricity, but the houses next door are not in good shape.
“We’ve waited two months and nothing has really been done to help anybody get into their homes,” Donaldson said. “Our property values have just gone down the drain.”
At the Harmony Hall Regional Center on Monday night, County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) told approximately 60 residents living along Piscataway Drive that the $11 million in capital improvement funds would only cover half the cost of repairing the roadway.
Baker said he would request an additional $11 million in a letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and wants to hear back from the state by July 16. If the state is unable to provide aid, Baker said the county may have to buy the homes in order to keep the homeowners safe.
“We can’t have folks live in places that are unsafe,” Baker said. “If we don’t get the $11 million, we can’t let you live there.”
The $22 million plan developed by Hunt Valley-based KCI Technologies would reinforce the soil on the slope by using a combination of soil nailing, micropiles and H-piles, said Darrell Mobley, director of the county Public Works and Transportation Department.
“There is not a guarantee it would not slide again in the future,” Baker said. “It is the only way to make this area safe for people to live in.”
Residents whose homes are in the construction zone would be evacuated during repair work, which could take six months to complete, Mobley said.
Resident Jennifer Gardner said she was unhappy with the county’s proposal and said she would explore alternatives herself.
“They keep coming up with excuses for why we should be out of our homes,” Gardner said. “We don’t want to put up a fight. We want to be back in our homes.”