Harford's unpaved roads

Though serving a half a dozen 30-year-old homes, Hitchcock Road in the Madonna area of northern Harford County is one of several unpaved roads owned and maintained by the county government. (Photo courtesy of Mary Harting, The Aegis / April 5, 2014)

Street resident Bruce Kabernagel lives on an unpaved county road that he said is literally falling apart. He also said it's an unlikely candidate for being paved any time soon, but considering the historic value of his neighborhood, he wouldn't live anywhere else.

Kabernagel, 72, has lived along his section of Rocks Station Road, which is tucked away in the woods off Route 24 (Rocks Road) near Rocks State Park, for 16 years.

His home is one of four along the unpaved road, which he said in a telephone interview last week "is in fairly decent shape," but residents have had to deal with an eroding section of road parallel to Gladden Branch, a tributary of Deer Creek, as well as regular potholes, many of them developing as a result of this winter's regular snow storms.

The road, like the other 45.86 miles of "earth roads," is maintained by the Harford County Department of Public Works.

Repairs of earth roads, the county's term for unpaved roads in residential and agricultural areas, typically take place when residents alert DPW.

"Anything you want done on this road, you have to fight for it," Kabernagel said. "Routine maintenance is non-existent and always has been."

He moved there from Baltimore County and he said last week that there are historical structures nearby, including a former hotel and railroad station that made up a stop along the former Ma & Pa Railroad.

"This is exactly what I want," Kabernagel exclaimed. "I worked hard all my life at Bethlehem Steel, and when I found this place, I said, 'This is it; this is what I want.' "

He said he has filled potholes himself along the 800 to 1,000 feet of road in front of his property.

"It's just constant up here, but I wouldn't trade it for nothing," he said.

Another county resident, Mary Harting, of White Hall, has also been frustrated with the condition of her earth road.

"It's a situation where you pay your county taxes and you don't have a passable road to drive on," Harting said. She lives on Hitchcock Road, a little more than a mile east of the intersection of Ayres Chapel Road and Route 23 (Norrisville Road).

Her home, which her parents built during the early 1980s, is one of six residences on the unpaved portion of Hitchcock Road.

Harting spoke to The Aegis in early March and sent in a photo of road that appeared to be only mud, which has been a liability during the winter weather.

"This road has either been covered with ice or it's been a mudhole," she said.

Harting's community was thawing out from a recent snow and cold spell, "so it's mud and gullies," she explained.

"Your car is a mess, and sometimes you get stuck," she said.

Harting said drivers risk sliding on the ice during the winter, and have to deal with a washed-out road caused by thunderstorms during the summer.

She said she also has to call the county to get repairs made, and public works crews come out "a couple times a year."

"When I tell them what the condition is, they will come out – when weather permits – to grade it," she said.