Charles County’s proposed Cross County Connector--permits denied.
Why the Cross County Connector extension across the Mattawoman watershed was such a bad idea.
The pollution running from the urbanization that would follow such a highway, and the loss
of water-filtering forest, would have damaged Mattawoman beyond repair. This
fact catalyzed over twenty local and
statewide civic, environmental, and outdoors groups to join MWS in forming the
Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County (SGACC). Our extensive analysis prompted
permitting agencies to take a hard look. Just one example is a report called Trouble Ahead.
In 2011, MDE denied wetland destruction
permits, followed in 2012 by the Army Corps as being “contrary to the public
interest.” The Corps noted an existing alternative served to carry traffic
across the county.
The proposal for this county highway—to be paid for solely
by county taxpayers—was a symptom of the larger disease of a land-use plan that
promotes overdevelopment in the Mattawoman Watershed. See the issues of
Land-use and the Comprehensive Plan.
Highways are promoted by developers and land speculators to open land for development. In fact, this highway was once called the “Western Connector,” and was intended to facilitate the Chapman’s Landing development, owned by the same developers who are erecting “Southbridge” on the Potomac in Virginia. As the name Southbridge implies, the speculators were banking on a new bridge over the Potomac River, part of the Outer Beltway, that would link their development to massive growth in Charles County. Fortunately, Chapman’s Landing was defeated when the Campaign to Save Chapman Forest—of which the predecessor to MWS was a founding member—convinced then-governor Parris Glendening, along with the private Conservation Fund, to purchase the forest. It is now Chapman State Park.
The Outer Beltway, or more precisely the Eastern Washington Bypass, lives on as a threat to Mattawoman. The Nice Bridge that carries U.S. Route 301 over the Potomac is slated for a larger replacement without any regard for the increased traffic that will worsen congestion in Waldorf. This jam will create cries for a Western Waldorf Bypass in a domino effect called segmentation, that is supposedly banned by the National Environment Policy Act. This highway proposal was one of the original options for the Eastern Washington Bypass and would be extremely damaging to Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts. It would devastate Mattawoman, impact the Port Tobacco River, and instigate development in the Nanjemoy watershed.
Proposed path of the Cross County Connector would have leveled forest, and opened thousands of acres of forested land to development.