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Garrett to discuss transportation projects

Commissioners, roads department and Maryland Coal Association will meet to talk damage done by heavy truck traffic

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — A meeting to discuss the status of Westernport and Lower New Germany roads will be held between the Maryland Coal Association, Garrett County commissioners and administration from the county roads department toward the end of the month, according to General Roads Superintendent Jay Moyer.

At a commission meeting in February, Moyer said it would be costly to fix the two roads and that the coal companies that regularly use the roads weren’t willing to foot the bill for repairs.

A majority of road damage in the county is caused by heavy truck traffic, said Moyer, especially in areas where there are coal or wind turbines.

All major road projects are on hold until the issue with Westernport and Lower New Germany roads gets resolved, said Moyer.

Moyer said if the issue was to be resolved, it would take up a major portion of the budget. He estimated road paving costs to be between $1.5 million and $2 million.

For fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, the county approved $2.3 million for overlay and $500,000 for asphalt, according to the budget.

Commissioners discussed the possibility of placing a weight restriction on the road during their February meeting.

“If we put weight-limit restrictions on the road, the trucks are going to travel another road,” said Moyer. He said restrictions could put the coal companies, as well as those hauling timber, out of business.

The commissioners have limited authority without zoning in place, said Garrett County Commission Chairman James Raley during the February meeting.

Currently, a draft land management ordinance is being considered by commissioners. The draft ordinance is available for public viewing and comment on the county’s website.

Current road projects taking place in this budget year include standard paving of Lakeshore Drive at Deep Creek Lake and Swanton Hill Road between Swanton Road and state Route 135, said Moyer.

Moyer also said foremen from the Oakland, Accident and Grantsville roads department sites are responsible for compiling and prioritizing road needs, putting those in dire need of repair at the top of the list and those that can wait a few years at the bottom of the list.

“With the loss of highway user funds three years ago to the tune of $5 million, we have a limited number of roads we can pave every year,” said Moyer.

The county has a five-year paving plan that is listed each spring and revisited each winter. The plan is fluid and things can be moved around as needed, according to Moyer.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com

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