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County Comment: Road and Bridge Project Update

County Comment
Road and Bridge Project Update
by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

Major road projects are ahead in Washington County that will likely affect how you travel through the county in 2007.
County Chief Engineer Terry McGee says that the Capital Improvement Project (CIP) request for fiscal year 2008, which begins July 1, contains funding for several large, and many smaller projects designed to help county citizens get from here to there in a safe and efficient manner.
On winter hiatus is the Pavement Maintenance Project funded in excess of $4 million. The project is at the halfway stage now, and will restart in the spring. The annual paving contract is under development for the next fiscal year, and could pave up to 36 additional miles of county highways.
McGee says the Pavement Maintenance program surveys each mile of roadway that the County maintains, using video cameras, and rates each mile as to degree of repair needed. Data gathered is then used to set the budget request, which the Board of County Commissioners either pass or reject.
Engineering's opinion is "the larger the better", because the program, underfunded for many years, is having to catch up.
"Just like anything else that needs maintenance, the longer you defer the maintenance the more costly is to deal with it, when you have to deal with it," McGee says.
Realignment of several intersections, including Maugans Avenue/Pennsylvania Avenue, Edgewood Drive/Route 40 and Halfway Boulevard/Massey Boulevard are on then horizon.
Maugans Avenue from Pennsylvania Avenue (U.S. 11) to I-81 is a bottleneck at certain periods of the day, and traffic can back up as far as the I-81 overpass in some instances.
That project, which will create a five-lane thoroughfare and revamp the major intersection at U.S. 11, has been bid, and a contract will be issued in Mid-February. Preliminary engineering and design work has been completed, and rights-of-way have been purchased.
The project should begin in late spring, and be complete in June or July of 2008. The road will be widened to what is called a "five lane urban section", with two lanes in each direction with a middle turning lane. About $4 million is in the current CIP budget for the project.
Another major project coming on line in the next few years will be the Edgewood Drive intersection with U.S. 40, although the State Highway Administration is the lead agency. Washington County and the City of Hagerstown are both partnering with the state for this project. McGee says County Engineering is meeting regularly with the state, providing input, reviewing plans and cooperating fully with both partners.
"The County, obviously, has a large financial stake in the project, so we want to make sure we're getting our moneys worth," McGee said. "We're going to be adding additional turn lanes, additional lanes on side streets to accept those turn lanes, it's quite an extensive project," he said.
One of the most congested intersections is Halfway Boulevard at Massey Boulevard.
"The intersection is woefully inadequate for the volume of traffic it is expected to serve," McGee said. Our plans call for double left-turn lanes, dedicated single right-turn lanes, and double through lanes, on all approaches. And in all directions. And so doing that, fitting that many lanes in there, we need additional right of way," he said.
The nature of the intersection and proximity of several business to the roadway will mean challenges for the project, McGee said. The project is at least a year away from going to bid, and several years away from completion, and will help alleviate one of the most congested traffic situations in Washington County.

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