Lehigh Cement Co. opposes road extension

Lehigh Cement Co. opposes road extension
Published: 02 November 2009

The Union Bridge Community Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2008 is under review after Lehigh Cement Co. officials requested that a proposed road that would have crossed the company’s property be removed from the plan.

Barbara Lilly, a planner in the Carroll County Bureau of Comprehensive Planning, said the plan has been out for a 60-day public review and comment period, which ends Friday. The Union Bridge Planning and Zoning Commission will have a public hearing on the proposed change Nov. 19.

The comprehensive plan, which was adopted in July 2008, included a proposed extension of Shepherd’s Mill Road from its existing terminus at Quaker Hill Road westward to Md. 75, or Green Valley Road.

Kent Martin, plant manager of Lehigh Cement in Union Bridge, said Lehigh did not become aware of the proposed road extension in the comprehensive plan until after the plan had been adopted.

“It caught us by surprise,” Martin said.

Lawyers for Lehigh Cement sent a letter to the town’s attorney dated April 13, 2009, which stated that extending Shepherd’s Mill Road through Lehigh’s property “is not feasible and would be completely disruptive to Lehigh’s operations.”

Building the Shepherd’s Mill extension would conflict with Lehigh’s operations by creating more traffic near the company’s facility, which already has a significant number of vehicles coming and going from the property each day. And if the company should move forward with using a rail option to carry limestone mined at the New Windsor quarry to the Union Bridge plant, the road would conflict with where the rail unloading facilities would be, according to the letter.

Furthermore, building an extension of Shepherd’s Mill Road would be a violation of the federal Mine Safety and Health Act, and would require users of the public road to conform to regulations of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Martin said the only way the road would be able to get around the MSHA regulations would be to fence it on both sides, which would make it an impractical obstacle for the company, since it operates on both sides of where the road is slated to be built.