By Guy Leonard, The St. Mary's County Times
The State Highway Administrations resurfacing project on Route 235 is nearly completed but local businesses say they fear the loss of even more profits since the road and intersection closures and traffic jams have discouraged customers for weeks.
Danny Rebarchick, owner of Lennys Restaurant, said the roadwork has massively impacted his business.
He lambasted state highway officials and the county commissioners for not pushing to make crews work during night time hours. The lane and intersection closures were bad enough, he said, but road crews would not allow potential customers to take U-turns close to his business, instead forcing motorists to travel farther down Route 235 before being able to turn around.
They shouldve issued [the project contract] with the community in mind, Rebarchick said.
When Rebarchick complained to state highway officials, they only told him that they would send someone out to look at the problem.
County Commissioner Todd Morgan said the fact that the project was under the auspices of the state put it out of local hands to influence the decision to shift the project to nighttime hours despite the complaints.
There was a lot of complaining but there wasnt a lot we could do about it, Morgan said.
The repaving project isnt the only one to drain profits from local small businesses. Carolyn Egrie, owner of the Baldwin Design Group that sits just south of the St. Johns Properties project of the Lexington Exchange, said road widening there discouraged a lot of potential customers.
People avoided the area, Egrie said. They would put the [traffic] barrels out and it looked like the road was closed.
It was like I disappeared.
Egrie said she understood the need for the barrels as a safety precaution, and hoped that the final opening of the shopping center, presaged by the projected July 30 opening of the R/C Theatre cineplex, would bring back business she lost.
The last portion of the Route 235 project involves the repaving of the intersection at Route 245, said Dave Buck, spokesperson for the state highway agency.
Were not switching over to night work to finish this job, Buck said, adding that this kind of roadwork ellicited complaints from the public no matter what time of day it occurred.
If we mill and pave at night we would receive numerous complaints about why couldnt we do it during the day, Buck said. We get complaints either way.
But given the complaints they received over the lane closures, traffic delays and impacts to business, the next round of roadwork on Route 235 could commence during the night time hours, Buck said.
We do apologize for the inconvenience of our daytime lane closures and the impacts to the businesses, he said. We hope the ride quality along MD 235 is improved.