Washington County is partnering with the Maryland State Highway Administration and a private developer to improve the accident-prone intersection of Poffenberger and Garis Shop roads south of Funkstown, county Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth III said.
The project, scheduled for construction next spring, calls for the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Poffenberger and Garis Shop roads, and relocation of the intersection of Poffenberger Road and Alt. U.S. 40 about 250 feet farther north.
“It’s going to be a tremendous improvement,” Kroboth said. “It’s a very high-accident location, and traditionally when there are accidents there, they are very severe in nature.”
The state’s contribution to the project will be about $1.2 million; the county’s, about $1.3 million; and developer Claggett’s Mill LLC, about $700,000, Kroboth said. In addition, the state will acquire right of way along Alt. U.S. 40 that Kroboth estimated will add close to $1 million more to the state’s contribution, he said.
Claggett’s Mill LLC is the developer of a 238-home development along Poffenberger Road.
The Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday to authorize a memorandum of understanding with Claggett’s Mill outlining the developer’s obligations toward the intersection project.
Commissioners President Terry Baker cast the “no” vote.
“I think the developer should be contributing much more than $700,000,” Baker said. “This looks as if it is a sweetheart deal for the developer, in my eyes.”
Claggett’s Mill obtained approval in 2004 to build the 238 homes, but because of the road issues, the developer was limited to building only 87 of them until the intersection is improved, Kroboth said.
“In this developer’s case, he could simply sit back and say, ‘I’m fine with the 87 lots and I’ll just sit back and wait until the state and county fix the problem,’” Kroboth said. “But he has stepped up and offered to expend almost three-quarters of a million dollars to try to move it along quicker.”
The housing development is not the sole reason for the project, Kroboth said.
“The primary reason is it’s a high-accident location and there is very limited sight distance for traffic that wants to pull out onto Alt. 40,” he said.
Kroboth said the project is of a magnitude that neither the state nor county could afford to undertake it alone.
“It’s a multijurisdictional problem, and I think it’s really the best of all worlds to leverage funding from the private sector and two levels of the public sector,” he said.
Among the developer’s obligations will be to acquire two parcels of land — 10210 Old National Pike and 19202 Poffenberger Road — and, from those parcels, convey to the county or state whatever right of way is needed to complete the road improvements, Kroboth said.
The developer also will demolish structures on those properties that need to be removed in order to complete the work, he said. The remaining portions will return to residential lots, he said.