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County Comment: Maryland Route 68 closure leads summer project update

County Comment
Maryland Route 68 closure leads summer project update
By Norman Bassett, Public Information Officer

Maryland Route 68, Lappans Road, will close for approximately 45 days, beginning on July 5th, as work on the roadway is conducted by the State Highway Administration. That work is in concert with the dam rehabilitation project at Devil's Backbone Park, one of a number of County projects underway this summer.
Joe Kroboth, III, Director of the Division of Public Works said in a recent interview that the park project should be concluded in late fall.
August is the official opening date for the Transit Transfer center on Franklin Street in downtown Hagerstown. The $1.4 million project received the bulk of its funding from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds. It will improve safety and service for County Commuter customers, Kroboth said.
Barnes Road Bridge near Boonsboro reopened to traffic in late May, following rehabilitation to that historic structure. The project leveraged federal bridge funding of $700,000.
The Pavement Maintenance Program for FY 2011 is coming to a close, having repaved or repaired 70 miles of the 861 mile system, funded at $2.9 million. Contracts for the FY 2012 paving program will be let soon, which will address another 65 miles, he said.
The fueling station at the Highways Department Southern Section has been completed. The project was significant because all county vehicles working in the southern area, including Sheriff's Department, will be able to gas up there, saving the time and expense of Deputies serving the area having to leave their posts to return to Hagerstown for fuel.
The 96-bed expansion of the Washington County Detention Center is another project slated for completion this summer. The project solves public safety problems by alleviating overcrowding.
Ongoing projects include the $15.9 million renovation and rehabilitation of the Washington County Free Library. That project, funded by County, state, City of Hagerstown and private sources is 2 to 4 weeks behind schedule, due to discovery of poor soils at the site, Kroboth said. The current estimated completion date is November 2012.
The Halfway and Massey Boulevard intersection improvement is a $3.9 million project, funded by federal, state and local sources. When complete, there will be additional and longer turn lanes to allow improved traffic flow.
In the next Fiscal Year, intersection improvements at Longmeadow Road and Marsh Pike will get underway. Additional turn lanes and replacement of a traffic signal will improve safety in that area, he said.
Significant cuts from the state have impacted the amount and type of pavement repairs the County has been able to make. The Highway User Fund, a state pass-through to Counties from collection of taxes on gasoline, titling taxes and auto registration fees has been reduced to near zero, and the County Commissioners have had to find ways to absorb the approximate $10 million annual cost in the general fund. Road maintenance is an essential service of County government, Kroboth said, and of primary importance to citizens who want their roads to be adequate and safe.
Continuing other capital programs takes leveraging of federal and state funding where it's available in order to reinvest in the community to help keep up with the infrastructure needs in the Hagerstown and Washington County area, Kroboth said.

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