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Can Route 236 Handle More Truck Traffic?

Can Route 236 handle more gravel truck traffic? That was the question pondered with the answer delayed Thursday night by the St. Mary’s County Board of Appeals.

Route 236, known as Thompson’s Corner Road, is one of the more eclectic roads in St. Mary’s County, with Amish buggies, race cars traveling to and from Budd’s Creek, regular commuter traffic and gravel trucks. The road connects Routes 5 and 234 in northern St. Mary’s County.
The appeals board in 2007 approved a gravel pit on 156 acres on Bethel Church Road owned by Sam and Hannah Hertzler, members of the Amish community. The approval required gravel trucks to use the portion of Route 236 closest to Route 234 because that is the least traveled portion of the road. The approval allowed 100 loads a day.
The gravel pit is operated by Jimmy Richards & Son Excavating of Waldorf. Jimmy Richards, III told the board members that the last load left the gravel site in 2008. Richards said the reason was two-fold: the slowdown in construction and the distance required to travel to get to work sites. He said most of his work is in the Charlotte Hall and Waldorf areas. He was requesting that he be allowed  75 loads a day (one way) to use Route 236 out to Route 5
Richards said for work in La Plata and southern Charles County, using the approved route to U.S. 301 was okay. But that route takes truck drivers 10 miles out of the way for some jobs in Charlotte Hall, Waldorf and farther north. He assured County Attorney George Sparling that work has been lost because of the extra money for transportation costs that had to be put into his bid. But when pressed, Richards was unable to come up with any specific example.
Richards operates two other gravel pits that use Route 236, although he said one was about ready to close. In all there are a half-dozen gravel operations that use Route 236.
Deputy Director of the Department of Public Works and Transportation John Groeger said there were 29 accidents on Route 236 between 2007 and 2009 and most of them involved vehicles being run off the road, the most dangerous because they often involve collision with fixed objects, such as trees or culverts. He said the road is winding and narrow with short shoulders and a lot of Amish buggy traffic.
Jerry Soderberg, consulting engineer with D.H. Steffens Company, said the Hertzlers didn’t want to testify but he relayed to the board that they felt the traffic to Budd’s Creek was more dangerous on the road than gravel truck traffic.
Groeger was unable to present specific comments from the State Highway Administration about the proposal to alter the route of the gravel trucks. Since Route 236 is a state road, Chairman Howard Thompson said, “I would like to find out SHA’s opinion.” The board delayed a decision in hopes that a state representative can come and give the agency’s position before they make a decision. Their next meeting is scheduled for August 11.
 
 

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