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Chewsville residents tell SHA to fix drainage before upgrading sidewalks

'If you fix the sidewalks but don't fix the water, all that money goes right down the drain'

April 24, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK | holly.shok@herald-mail.com

The Maryland State Highway Administration hosted a meeting to get feedback from Chewsville residents on a proposed paving and sidewalk improvement project Thursday, but some people suggested that the SHA first fix the town’s drainage problem.

The meeting was prompted by the SHA’s plan to pave Twin Springs Drive, Md. 804B/Md. 62, and Track Side Road, in addition to making sidewalks along Twin Springs Drive comply with current Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards.

About 25 people at the meeting heard two options for the project: Widening the sidewalk into the roadway and eliminating parking on one side of the street; or widening the sidewalks away from the road, which would require current barriers to be pushed back.

The paving project would account for a little more than three quarters of a mile of roadway.

The sidewalks along both sides of Twin Springs Drive are currently 3 feet, 4 inches and must be widened to 5 feet to comply with ADA regulations.

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But residents said if the town’s drainage problem is not first fixed, the new sidewalks will face the same fate as the current ones, which Chewsville resident Sally Sine said are “crumbling.”

“If you fix the sidewalks but don’t fix the water, all that money goes right down the drain,” said Sine, 57.
James “Fritz” Sine, 62, said he feels that the SHA is putting the “cart before the horse.”

“The roads wouldn’t be in this shape if they were taking care of the drainage,” the Chewsville resident said.

SHA Assistant District Engineer for Project Development Linda Puffenbarger said much of the drainage problem results from the town’s “natural topography” and described Chewsville as a “bathtub.”

She said the Streetscape project that was never completed 10 years ago due to a lack of state funding would have addressed the drainage issue with improved storm water management.

“We felt that it was important to come back and discuss items that we could accomplish as an interim because there is a need in town,” Puffenbarger said after the hour-long meeting at Bethel United Methodist Church’s Family Life Center in Smithsburg.

The road improvement project would be undertaken next summer and residents would still have access to the road during the work, which would be completed in sections, Puffenbarger said.

Tony Crawford, SHA district engineer, said the SHA will investigate solutions to the town’s drainage problem next week.

Comment cards were collected from people in attendance asking which option for the road improvement project they preferred, but Puffenbarger said she did not hear a consensus from those in attendance because much of the meeting was spent on the drainage issue.

Heidi Black, 58, said she prefers the plan to extend sidewalks into the street, eliminating one side of on-street parking.

“You try to think what would be good for you and your neighbors,” the Chewsville resident said.
Chewsville resident Heather Goodmansen, 37, agreed, preferring the plan to eliminate parking on one side of the road.

Puffenbarger said SHA plans to meet with Chewsville residents again in August after reviewing the comment cards and investigating a solution to the town’s drainage problem. 

“What we were really hoping to get back was just feedback ... so that we can start to weigh out what are the most important factors for folks here. We have a couple things that we have to do, that we are bound by law to do,” she said, referencing making sidewalks ADA compliant. “But after that then it becomes as much as reasonable tailoring the project to what the community wants to see.”

Comment cards will be accepted through April 29.

According to an SHA news release, additional information about the project is available by contacting David Mitchell, SHA transportation engineer, by phone at 301-729-8427, toll free at 800-760-7138, or by e-mail at dmitchell@sha.state.md.us.

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