Charles County Makes Its Case for the Cross County Connector One More Time

On Tuesday, June 30 at 2 p.m., the Charles County Chamber of Commerce hosted a private, invitation only, press conference to make the case for the much battled and long awaited Cross County Connector – the final extension of Billingsley Road connecting State Route 5 south of Waldorf to Route 210 in Bryans Road.

During the hour long presentation to the press, dignitaries including: Del. Murray Levy to Charles County Commissioner, Gary V. Hodge, Charles County School Superintendent, James Richmond and Chamber President, Ken Weikel reiterated material provided during the last public hearing on the matter held July 30, 2008.

That 2008 hearing was the center of a heated debate between those in favor of the Cross County Connector and various environmental groups trying to defeat the final three phases of construction through one of Maryland’s last pristine watersheds, the Mattawoman Creek. At that time, over 157 people signed up to speak with the lion’s share of speakers coming out against the road improvement through the delicate environmental area.

At this most recent press conference, on the pro-connector side, the only side presented, it was stated that the County had done everything in its power to preserve the waterway in question while addressing severe safety concerns.

One report provided showed that during the nine-year period from 2000 to 2008 a traffic study showed that the narrow winding and unimproved portion of Billingsley Road, there were an average of 92 accidents a year, while on the improved side, only 39 accidents per year.

Another subject broached by Levy and Hodge was the embattled idea of controlling growth in the area once the roadway is completed. It was stated that the County is working to bring on commuter rail and that development and growth should be contained in the Waldorf, White Plains, La Plata area which would all be served by the finished connector.

However, environmentalists are concerned that the improved roadway will increase development, traffic and pollution in the area negating the safety improvements of the roadway. In addition to the increased level of traffic, these same environmental groups are concerned that the largest contributor to the pollution will be the development that follows the road.

Levy stated that the infrastructure to support the growth in the area is already in place as it was mandated by federal authorities back in the 1960s when they forced Charles County to build a water treatment plant to serve that area of the county.

When asked about the status of the outstanding application to the Army Corps of Engineers, it was unknown at this time what the status is. At the public hearing in July of 2008, the ACOE took public comments and stated that they would continuing to take public testimonial for the following few weeks.

In the 11 months that have followed the final public hearing, the County has been asked to provide innumerable documents in support of its case. Yet, the debate continues. Such is the case with each previous phase of the project which, to date, has taken almost 20 years to get as far as it has with almost half the project still to complete.

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