Robinwood residents oppose extension

October 17, 1997


Staff Writer

Laurie Shinham and her husband built their house on Partridge Trail near the intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Robinwood Drive eight years ago because they wanted a place where their kids could play outside in a quiet neighborhood.

The setting is idyllic. Surrounded by pine trees, fields and a quiet street, the sound of birds drowns out the distant roar from the major thoroughfares.

But the prospect of a four-lane extension of Robinwood Drive running through her backyard could shatter this peaceful picture.

Terry McGee, Washington County chief engineer, says realigning the road so that it runs between Green Hill Road and Partridge Trail is their best option so far for expanding the eastern section of Robinwood Drive into a four-lane divided highway.


McGee and Public Works Director Gary Rohrer will discuss the different options with residents at Hagerstown Junior College next Thursday at 7 p.m. in room C-11 of the Classroom Building.

McGee said expanding the current alignment of Robinwood Drive at Jefferson Boulevard, while possible from an engineering standpoint, would disrupt the front yards of as many as 80 property owners. By moving the road further west, the county would only have to negotiate with a handful of property owners.

County Commissioner John S. Shank said that the commissioners will have a tough decision to make, but will probably go with the alignment that has the least effect on the fewest property owners. While "nothing is set in concrete," Shank said the alignment going past Shinham's property is probably the lesser of two evils.

Shank and McGee said leaving the road the way it is won't work either; traffic along that stretch of road has risen substantially and is expected to grow considerably.

"To leave it would just be disastrous," Shank said.

"The simple fact of the matter is the traffic is not going to go away and we have to deal with it," McGee said.

"We're trying to be proactive rather than wait for total gridlock 5 or 10 years from now."

McGee said the construction of the road would still be several years away, but the county wanted to acquire the right-of-way sooner than that to prevent development.

"The last thing we want is new structures of any kind and have us come in a few years later and buy the properties," he said."

McGee urged residents not to panic.

"Don't expect to see the bulldozers there tomorrow leveling houses," he said.

Shinham says she moved to peaceful Partridge Trail from busy Salem Avenue Extended and will move again if the county builds the road. But Shinham said that she's worried about a loss of property value.

Shinham's neighbors also enjoy the stretch of undeveloped land in their back yards. Pheasant, deer, skunks, raccoons and other critters frequent the area.

"It would kind of ruin the character of the whole neighborhood," said James Parker of Partridge Trail.

Parker said the county should look at other options, such as building a road from Eastern Boulevard to the Robinwood Medical Center or from Harp Road through HJC to Robinwood.

Pastor George Evans, of Covenant Presbyterian Church, which owns much of the land that would be used for the road, said he's worried about the loss of tranquility and security the road would cause.

Evans said the church was built in 1962 by people who wanted it to be nestled in a residential area.

"Had we wanted to be a church on a four-lane highway, we would have been on Dual Highway," he said.

Evans said he thinks the money spent on the new road would be better spent on schools, and said other alternatives should be explored.

But he said expects the new highway to be built.

"I can see the handwriting on the wall."

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