By Sen. Roy Dyson

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]

November 1, 1996

A couple of weeks ago I wrote of my concern about the lack of construction monies
for road projects in Calvert and St. Mary's counties. After the annual meeting in each
county with Maryland Department of Transportation officials the money still is not there,
but I was left with the favorable impression that every effort would be made to
accelerate several needed projects.

Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary David Winstead and new State
Highway Administrator Parker Williams, along with several other officials, met with the
Calvert County Commissioners and citizens in the morning of October 3 1 st and then
met in St. Mary's County in the afternoon. I am convinced that those officials appreciate
the economic development implications of the growth at the Patuxent River Naval Air
Station, which is now underway. As a matter of fact, Williams threw out an interesting
figure: investment in transportation nets a 26-percent rate of return. That's not bad for
any investment.

At the meetings I presented Mr. Winstead with a letter, a copy of which has also been
sent to Governor Parris Glendening. In that letter, while praising the effort to date, I
asked for a commitment from the governor and Winstead to accelerate the process of
improving the main road into the base, Route 235. Even though the governor
accelerated the right-of-way funding, I still feel there needs to be an even greater effort
to begin construction sooner, even if it means an extraordinary effort on the part of the
state to accomplish that.

In the letter I said to Winstead, "...I would request that you provide the governor,
myself and the rest of the legislative delegation, and the St. Mary's County
Commissioners with your ideas about how construction can be accelerated, including
the contracting out of work which could not be handled by your existing staff, and the
costs associated with such an endeavor. With that information in hand we will be in a
much better position to know what to request in the 1997 Maryland General

Winstead said he is ready, willing and able to get together with the local folks to
hammer out an agreement about what needs to be done and how to do it in a more
timely fashion. That's exactly what I was asking in my letter to him. One potential
complication is the proposed FDR Boulevard parallel to Route 235. The community
needs to decide which has a greater priority, 235 or FDR, because I don't believe we
will be able to accomplish getting both done at the same time.

I was impressed at both the Calvert and St. Mary's meetings with the number of citizens
in attendance to support several needed projects. Gladys Bowers of the Solomons
Civic Association and Don Randall of the Federation of Southern Calvert Communities
were on hand to support the proposed Route 765 extension from Dowell Road to
Solomons Landing. This extension would allow folks traveling from the Lusby and
Dowell areas to get to Solomons without going out on congested Routes 2/4. I think
this is a needed project and I hope we can find a way to accelerate it.

At the St. Mary's meeting Bud and Betty Ridgell, long-time advocates of improving
Route 5 in Scotland, were on hand. I asked Secretary Winstead to take a trip on that
road in a camper to see for himself how narrow and dangerous it is, with a half-million
visitors to Point Lookout State Park using it every year.

There are many road needs throughout the state. But ours are tied to such an economic
gift horse that they can't be ignored. The growth at the base has some potential pitfalls
for the future. There's something called Vision 21 which is looking at consolidating
defense aviation research, development, test and evaluation work. Pax River could gain
or lose under that concept.

One sure way for us to lose is for the community to show it doesn't support the Navy.
One way to ensure continued success is continued community support. I hope we can
find a way to send an even clearer signal than we are now sending that we are behind
the Navy every step of the way. An accelerated construction schedule for needed
transportation programs is one way to send that signal.

A few months ago I wrote about the problems with the current law banning pagers in
our schools. In my next column I will tell you about proposed legislation which will be
aimed at addressing the concerns about that law.

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]