Sra Assesses Bridge's Threat To Wetlands

September 16, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

They hiked through underbrush and under vines, down hills and acrosssoggy ground. They climbed trees and pulled up plants. They bagged garbage and discussed plant life.

Most of all, they wondered if theabundance of greenery they toured will survive state plans to build an 80-foot bridge over the Severn River. These plans could alter someparts of the wetlands near Jonas Green Park.

That's why members of the Severn River Association decided to take their monthly stroll around the river's watershed to the clump of wetlands and trees across from the park near Pendennis Mount.

"There is so much discussion about the bridge that I thought people would want to see the area," said Ned Hall, an association member.

The six members who toured the area needed no convincing that the bridge is a bad idea and will be detrimental to the wildlife and vegetation.

The Annapolis City Council voted last week to sue the state over the high span. Another group, Citizens for the Scenic Severn River Bridge Inc., also filed suit last week, claiming a high span would ruin the scenic entry into the historic district.

The high-bridge opponents want the state to build a draw bridge similar to the one in place now.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer announced late last month thatthe state would proceed with plans to build the high span, warning that Maryland could lose $32 million in federal money for the project unless it acted now.

The area the group toured, a triangle of dense brush and trees boarded by routes 450 and 648, is state-owned land.About one-tenth of an acre of wetlands will be moved under the span,which could be 30 feet high where it passes over the intersection ofroutes 450 and 648.

A section of the land will be filled in to make way for an off-ramp coming into the new road. While much of the wetlands will not be touched, the group said the construction impact could cause irreparable harm.

"That area will not be touched," said association member Jim Martin, pointing to the east portion of the land. "But it could be affected by the runoff from the fill."

The state also plans to build a temporary road along Route 648 so that carscan get around construction. "If you happen to be a tree or a plant,it doesn't seem too temporary," said Colby Rucker, president of the association.

The touring group members marveled at the plant life they found and evidence of an ever-changing wetlands. What once was amarsh under water, then a shrub swamp, is now a wooded swamp -- saturated dirt with trees mixed in with the vines.

"It's amazing what you can find in an out-of-the-way forgotten wetland," said Stuart Morris, past president of the association.

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