The State Highway Administration plans to double the size of the fishing pier it is creating from the remains of the old Severn River Bridge near Annapolis.
The pier, which will stretch from the 6-acre Jonas Green State Park, was proposed at 280 feet long. But roads officials say a longer pier would be "more of an attraction."
They have told bridge contractor Cianbro Inc. not to tear down a second 280-foot section while they decide what to do, said Ernest L. Hodshon, assistant district engineer for construction.
The plan is opposed by area residents, who say the expansion would bring trash and trouble, and by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Ferry Farms resident Steve Carr, who served on the SHA community oversight committee for the new U.S. Naval Academy Bridge over the Severn, said he resented the state deciding to create a "major focal point" near a quiet neighborhood. He fears an accumulation of litter because state parks don't have trash cans.
"If we are lucky, [people] are going to throw it in the river," he said. Otherwise, he said, the area could be inundated by "fish innards and 7-Eleven Styrofoam cups."
Because of the contractor's schedule and financial considerations, a decision on the extension must be made by March, Mr. Hodshon said.
Annapolis lawyer Ronald E. Council, who lives upriver across from the pier, fears that the timetable means "we would end up with it by default."
"The trash that I clean off my bulkhead every week is unbelievable. It's a trash can full," said Mr. Council, adding that the old bridge had trash cans on it.
The Corps of Engineers, in a letter to the SHA last week, recommended against rekindling the controversy over the bridge replacement and suggested that the state stick with a 280-foot pier.
No pier design has been proposed, although highway officials and the Department of Natural Resources this fall discussed providing up to 82 parking spaces, benches, wheelchair accessibility, toilets, lights for night fishing and security.
The state is concerned about the structural integrity of the second 280-foot section of the old concrete-and-steel span. The bridge, which took Route 450 across the Severn River, was built in 1924. The first 280-foot section was rebuilt in 1979, which was part of the logic behind leaving it as a fishing pier. The second 280-foot section never was rebuilt.
"We would have to rehabilitate that last 280-foot section, or demolish and rebuild, or even go out in a T," said Chuck Brown, an SHA spokesman.
Opponents say that SHA officials are trying to justify the extension by saying people who fish want the longer pier to reach deeper water and better fishing. But maps show that at the end of the 280-foot pier, the Severn is about 36 feet deep. The depth at the end of a 560-foot pier would be 25 feet.
Critics also are pressing to know who is going to pay for the work and who is going to pay to operate the pier. And, they say, the longer pier is too big for the small park and for a residential area.
No cost estimates have been prepared, SHA officials said. But the DNR expects the pier to cost $50,000 a year to run. The agency cannot afford that, according to a letter in which Secretary Torrey C. Brown of DNR asked the Department of Transportation to subsidize the pier.
Memos on the pier expansion show that DNR expects night fishing and wants to add lighting, which has been a touchy subject in the neighborhood in the past.
A four-member group organized by Diane Evans of Arnold, chairwoman of the County Council is looking into the feasibility -- and use of an extended pier.
Nancy Welsh Almgren, a Pendennis Mount resident who heads the group, said a sketch done by committee member and architect Scarlett Breeding depicts a longer pier, with benches, ending in a small pavilion to shade visitors.
Additional lighting was not envisioned.
The group is talking about such issues as trash removal, parking and providing hoses to keep an extended pier clean, Ms. Almgren said.
Pendennis Mount resident Jeffrey Mahan said after seeing the ++ drawing last week, "It's a beautiful concept. I think it would be an absolute outstanding feature for the area. It should benefit the communities, Pendennis Mount tremendously."