Residents want bypass to bypass their houses

January 24, 1998

Residents want bypass to bypass their houses


Staff Writer

Frances Grimes, 69, and her husband William, 65, had just refinished their home on Jefferson Boulevard and were settling in for retirement when they found out last year that Washington County wanted to build a four-lane bypass of Robinwood Drive right by their house.

"We thought we were fixed for life," she said.

Grimes isn't the only one who will be affected by the road, depending on where the County Commissioners decide to put it.

County engineers presented five options to the commissioners Tuesday. Each have opponents.

The commissioners said they wanted to take the options to a public hearing to give everyone the chance to comment.

Option A

Extending Robinwood Drive three quarters of a mile to the west to Harp Road would cost an estimated $3.92 million - the second cheapest of the five options.


Carl Teays, 62, has lived about 40 years on Harp Road, and said putting four lanes onto the road, which is now not much more than one lane, wouldn't make sense. Most of the traffic on Robinwood comes from the Smithsburg area, he said. Any new road should be built in that direction, he said.

County Public Works Director Gary Rohrer said this is his least favorite option, because it's too far west and because it would intersect with Jefferson Boulevard on a hill. The route would also cross a floodplain.

Not everybody opposes a new road here, however.

"I really think that it would probably be a good idea - there's too much congestion," said Deb Clevenger, 34, a resident of Harp Road.

Clevenger said if her road was upgraded, she'd consider it an improvement. Clevenger said it's hard to make turns onto Jefferson Boulevard because of the traffic and because of the hill.

Option B

This $3.67 million option between Green Hill Drive and Partridge Trail is the cheapest, straightest route for a bypass. It's biggest drawback is that it goes through the lands of Covenant Presbyterian Church and the back yards of a half-dozen homes. Two homes would be purchased.

Pastor George Evans said the church, which has vigorously opposed the road, shouldn't be considered the equivalent of a home when the commissioners make their decision.

"We're greater than that," he said.

The Grimeses said they don't know what they'll do if this option is chosen and the county buys their house.

"We redid everything since we've been here," said Frances Grimes. New heating and air conditioning, furnishings, wallpaper and 10 year of improvements would go down the drain, she said.

"I planned on living here until I die, but, maybe not," said William Grimes.

He said a couple of turn lanes at Hagerstown Junior College and at the intersection between Robinwood Drive and Jefferson Boulevard is all that's really needed to alleviate the traffic.

Option C

Buying up 29 homes on the western side of Robinwood Drive to make way for two more lanes doesn't make much sense to Stephen Sakalski, a Robinwood resident whose home would be bought. The option would cost $6.23 million.

"If they want to spend $6.5 million and buy up my house, that's fine. But I don't think the county has $6.5 million to spend," he said.

Sakalski said Option B should be chosen because it's the cheapest route.

Sakalski said something has to be done about the traffic and speeding on Robinwood.

"My wife's scared to go out and get the mail. I'm scared to go out and cut the grass," he said.

Donovan Burger, 69, another Robinwood Drive resident, said that if Robinwood Drive and a new road between Green Hill Drive and Partridge Trail were both made into one-way streets, there wouldn't be a need for four new lanes.

"I'm hoping they don't tear my house down because I like it here," said Betty Burger, 66.

Option D

The $5.72 million Kieffer Funk Road option would force five families to move and potentially open up Agriculture-zoned land to development. An additional 33 homes would have the new road to their side or rear. Two properties along the road are considered historic properties.

"There'll be war," said Dana Sowers, 36, a Kieffer Funk Road resident who could lose her home. The couple is building a garage and enclosing their back porch, she said.

"I love it here. It's quiet," she said.

Even though the county would have to pay them for taking their house, Sowers said that wasn't the point.

"The money still can't replace the memories you have. Once you get rooted someplace it's hard to move," she said.

"I think the whole thing stinks," said Kevin Barkman, who also lives on Kieffer Funk Road and could lose the home where he was raised.

"I don't think they need a four-lane highway anywhere," he said.

Sowers said the commissioners should put the road somewhere else.

"Why don't they save taxpayers money and take the cheapest route?" she asked.

Option E

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