LEXINGTON PARK, Md. — After years of developing F.D.R. Blvd., a 3.7-mile roadway intended to divert some traffic away from Route 235 during rush hour with a budgeted price tag of $48.5 million, the St. Mary’s Board of County Commissioners(BOCC) are finally catching glimpses of the final stretch.

At their July 14 meeting, the BOCC came to terms with one of the first needed property acquisitions for the third and final phase of the roadway. The purchase, which included a total of 0.61 acres of land for various purposes at a cost of $360,000, was praised by the board. The land being transferred will be coming off the 7.42-acre tract owned by “ELKS LODGE 2092 BENEVOLENT & PROTECTIVE ORDER OF ELKS.”

“This is a great story of cooperation,” Public Works and Transportation Director John Deatrick said during the meeting. “We have been in discussion and negotiations with the Elks because it is a critical piece of property that is required.”

In the transaction, the price was evaluated and increased to replace the sign out front and 28 parking spaces on the premises. Additional value was provided to the lodge for potentially lost rental income that could be lost while construction takes place around the property.

However, negotiations on this property weren’t easy, and this is only the beginning of what will need to be acquired for the first half of the last phase.

“The first discussion didn’t go too well,” Deatrick said. “The Elks felt that we didn’t fully appreciate the value of their property and the value of the business impact. So we went back, looked at our number, came up with a new number, and they accepted it. When we began to talk directly, we reached an understanding… It moves us right along with our properties that we need for F.D.R. phase 3A.”

The BOCC approved the contract unanimously, except for Commissioner Mike Hewitt[R] who recused himself from voting due to his affiliations with the Elks Lodge.

After reaching out to the Elks Lodge for their thoughts on the transaction, they responded with “no comment.”

The third phase of F.D.R. Blvd, which will stretch 1.8 miles from Chancellor’s Run Rd. to Pegg Rd. and impact 42 properties along the way, currently has $18.9 million designated for it throughout the next two fiscal years. It has been broken up into sections 3A and 3B, with Buck Hewitt Rd. working as the projects dividing line.

Now some commissioners are just hoping that this portion of the project moves faster than it historically has.

“[This property is] the next critical piece to crossing Chancellors Run Road to get us to Pegg Road in the next ten years or so,” Commissioner Todd Morgan[R] said, getting laughs from around the room.

After all, it has been decades of planning that have gone into this roadway already.

“We hope to be completed much sooner than that, but I appreciate your frustration with the speed of the project,” Deatrick responded to Morgan.

Contact Zach at zach.hill@thebaynet.com