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Article Archive >> In Your County

County Comment: 2008 Busy for County Public Works

County Comment
2008 Busy for County Public Works
by Norman Bassett, Public Information Officer
Washington County, Maryland

Calendar year 2008 is ending with good news for citizens and businesses in the Funkstown area with the rehabilitated stone arch bridge on East Oak Ridge Drive opening to traffic on or about December 12th.
Washington County Director of Public Works Joe Kroboth, III said the bridge project will open about five weeks ahead of the projected schedule. The project began in August with a completion date of mid-January, 2009, with inducements to the contractor for rapid completion.
"I just want to say how appreciative we are and thankful we are for the citizens who have had to experience inconvenience as a part of that project. We know it has been a difficult project for the community of Funkstown and the County as a whole, but we do appreciate everyone's cooperation," Kroboth said.
The $1.3 million project was funded 80% by federal funds.
The item with the largest ticket that was completed during the calendar year was the Maugansville Avenue-Pennsylvania Avenue intersection, at a total cost of some $10.5 million. The project added turning lanes to the intersection, to alleviate backups in the area during peak traffic hours. All but minor contract items were completed and the intersection improvements opened to traffic in early December, Kroboth said.
Another large traffic improvement project was at the intersection of Dual Highway (U.S. 40) and Mount Aetna Road, which realigned traffic patterns and added turning lanes. Double turn lanes were added to the west-bound side of U.S. 40 to enhance traffic flow onto Mount Aetna, and that road was widened to its intersection with Yale Drive.
"That project was completed on time, and under budget," Kroboth said, "and was a $1.1 million improvement." The project was fully opened to traffic in September.
The Pavement Maintenance program saw 7 miles of asphalt overlay and 28 miles of chip sealing completed during the summer and fall months.
Kroboth cited cost of asphalt rising to unpredictable levels over a 24 month period as the reason that the County has had to explore less costly paving methods, with the most cost-effective method being chip sealing. Using chip seal is 10-12 times more cost effective that doing an overlay, he said.
A different type of bridge project is nearing completion, with replacement of the pedestrian bridge over Antietam Creek in Devils Backbone Park. That structure was severely damaged during spring floods in 2006.
"The new bridge will be accessible for people with disabilities and will open up the side of the park across the creek to usability by all of our citizens," Kroboth said.
Road and bridge projects to come in 2009 include rehabilitation of the stone arch bridge on Harpers Ferry Road at Antietam, with an estimated cost of $1.5 million, which will also be 80% funded by federal highway dollars.
"Just like the Funkstown Bridge, there will be a significant challenge for detouring traffic," Kroboth said. A separate project, to build a bridge on Mills Road, will be deferred until; later in the year, because Mills Road will be part of the Harper's Ferry Road detour.
The major Road project in 2009 will be the Massey Boulevard/Halfway Boulevard intersection renovation. That intersection was originally constructed in 1971, with the building of Valley Mall, and must be upgraded due to the increase in traffic and maintenance on the traffic signals over that 37-year period.
"This project will essentially add double left turn lanes on all the approaches, widen the intersection out, and provide additional capacity at that intersection," Kroboth said.
A new roadway, Eastern Boulevard Extended, will connect the existing road at the YMCA to a point at the intersection of Marsh Pike on Maryland Route 60. That project is in design, Kroboth said. Southern Boulevard, also known as the Funkstown Bypass will also move forward in 2009 with the design phase taking place.
The County will again provide improvements to some 30+ miles of highways through the annual Pavement Maintenance Program, and several smaller bridge projects are on the horizon, he said.
Kroboth thanked the County Commissioners for improved funding for the paving projects, and for support for new and improved infrastructure projects County-wide.

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