Corkran Cemetery Road flooded section

A northward view of Corkran Cemetery Road shows the flooded section.

CAMBRIDGE — The Dorchester County Council killed a proposed bill during the Tuesday, July 20, meeting that would have closed the dirt portion of Corkran Cemetery Road near Rhodesdale and Petersburg.

Multiple residents of the area spoke during the 40 minute hearing on the proposal to close about a mile of the road connecting Route 14 west of Rhodesdale with the Petersburg area.

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Corkran Cemetery Road south view of flooded area
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Corkran Cemetery Road street sign
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Corkran Cemetery Road warning sign
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Corkran Cemetery Road trash
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Corkran Cemetery Road power lines

The process to close the road began at the Dec. 15 council meeting after the road was temporarily closed by the county due flooded conditions, then blocked by an unknown party by wires strung across the road on each end of the closure.

Tuesday’s hearing began with county Department of Public Works Director Dave Edwards explanation of the initial road closure due a flooded section, as well as the current state of the road and a pattern of illegal trash dumping.

One resident of nearby Palmers Mill Road said road flooding was a problem, including a washout of that road several years ago, and recent cases of water rushing over the road due to storms.

“I don’t think the road should be closed for somebody’s personal selfish reason, and I don’t think that I want it open for my own personal selfish reason, but I do if I need an ambulance or a fire truck,” he said.

He pointed to nearby irrigation systems spraying onto the road, and the movement of right of way of the road. “I use the road, and I use it frequently,” he said. “I don’t want it closed because it’s a safety issue.”

A resident of Corkran Cemetery Road said a UPS truck used the road twice the day of the hearing and ambulances use it as well. She said she would drive her electric wheelchair on portions of the road, and that the flooding status was not new.

“Why hasn’t it been repaired after all this time?” she asked.

Former county councilman Glen Payne said he was familiar with the road and how useful it was as a shortcut from his time as a Maryland State police officer for 25 years.

He said he had traveled the road around the time of the initial closure and since, and found it to be generally in good shape.

Jerry Rhue said he was worried about a domino effect the closure of Corkran Cemetery Road could cause for several other dirt roads in the area.

Another resident of the road spoke over the phone connection, telling the council he and his family use the road and have had to use it when driving on the paved portion of the road stalled out a vehicle during a recent storm.

District 5 Councilwoman Libby Nagel spoke in favor or a closure and emphasized she had not authorized the initial. She read a portion of an email about a Caroline County EMS unit attempting to use the road to respond to a 911 call but being forced to take another route due to the condition of the road.

Dorchester County District 4 Councilman Lenny Pfeffer spoke against the proposal to close, citing a letter from Delmarva Power retaining access for the road due to the need to main the electric lines running parallel to the road right of way. Pfeffer said the county had recently allocation $10,000 for a cul de sac, and it should be willing to spend the estimated repair costs of $15,000 to fix a road used and relied on by members of the community.

When asked for his assessment, DPW’s Edwards said, “It’s no problem in the dry season, but you can’t go down it in the grader during the wet season.”

Edwards acknowledged that significant rainfall can adversely affect Corkran Cemetery Road, Palmers Mill and Petersburg road, stating, “They all have their issues.”

The council’s 4-1 vote with Nagel as the dissenting vote killed the legislative measure and any chance for a closure of the road in the near future.

{span class=”print_trim”}Mike Detmer is a staff writer for the Dorchester Star and Star Democrat based in Maryland. You can reach him at mdetmer@chespub.com.

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