Chesapeake Beach Efforts To Beautify Repel Some

By Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 27, 2008

A street beautification project in Chesapeake Beach has turned ugly.

Residents and elected officials in the town beside the Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County are unhappy with several aspects of the State Highway Administration's $5.3 million project to add boardwalks, sidewalks and trees along routes 260 and 261.

Potential crashes, blocked sight lines and standing water are among the concerns raised about the project, which stretches from Old Bayside Road to First Street on Route 261 and west to Cox Road on Route 260.

Dave Buck, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration, said that the agency "had a few issues we worked through," but that it is all part of new construction work.

"You are impacting people every day. You are in their front yards. It is not an easy process," he said.

New medians with crepe myrtle trees were added to Route 260. That eliminated the center turning lane from the eastern end of the road, which links the town with Route 2 and Route 4 to the west.

"There is no stacking lane," said Mayor Gerald W. Donovan, adding that he expects traffic on westbound Route 260 will back up behind motorists trying to turn left into businesses on the corner of E Street. "When the sun is setting in the west in the late afternoon, I can envision a fender bender there or worse -- somebody pulling out in front of an eastbound car."

Donovan said he was expecting low-level shrubbery in the new medians, not trees that, when in bloom, could impede drivers' views. Town Council member Valerie L. Beaudin said she plans to request flowers to replace the trees.

"As pretty as they are, it is a hazard," Beaudin said. She also noted that there have been drainage problems that she attributed to the new curbs being installed. She said she has seen standing water on 27th and 28th streets at C Street, near her home, during light rain showers. She said she is concerned about untreated water running into the bay.

A hydrology expert will visit the area in the coming weeks "to see if something else can be done," Buck said.

One longtime resident said the project was poorly conceived.

"It was poor planning from the very beginning," said Larry Robey Sr., a 30-year resident who has been leading the fight to remove portions of the new boardwalks that block motorists' views while they exit 17th or 19th streets and turn onto Route 261. He also said some pedestrians will have to cross the busy thoroughfare because the new walks are staggered along the west and east sides of Route 261.

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