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I-81 bridge coming down

August 16, 2000

I-81 bridge coming down



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

I-81 BridgeStarting Monday night, drivers on Interstate 81 will be diverted onto the ramps at Halfway Boulevard as crews begin demolishing the old two-lane bridge over the interstate, a State Highway Administration spokeswoman said Wednesday.

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Interstate traffic will have to use the ramps to exit and re-enter I-81 in both directions for from four to six weeks between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weeknights, said spokeswoman Lora Rakowski.

Maryland State Police will provide traffic control so drivers on Halfway Boulevard don't get backed up too far waiting for interstate traffic to get through, Rakowski said.

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Rakowski said this traffic pattern worked well earlier this year when crews set the steel for the new Halfway Boulevard bridge.

Signs along Interstate 81 will warn drivers of the impending closure. Because the ramps are one lane, the interstate will be merged into one lane in both directions for up to a mile before Halfway Boulevard, she said.

The old Halfway Boulevard bridge will close today as two lanes of the new bridge open for eastbound and westbound traffic, Rakowski said.

After demolishing the old bridge crews will expand the new bridge to eight lanes, she said. Five of those lanes will be westbound.

The $17.9 million interchange upgrade is being done to accommodate increasing traffic due to the growing commercial development in that area, Rakowski said.

The entire project is expected to be complete in the fall of 2001.

Interstate 81 isn't the only highway where bottlenecks are expected.

State highway officials are asking drivers to avoid Interstate 70 in Washington County for up to three weeks starting Monday. The left lane of I-70 westbound from the Frederick County line to near Hancock will be closed from early morning to about 11 a.m. on weekdays.

The I-70 lane closure stems from a communications project that involves laying fiber-optic cable from Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh.

Drivers will start to see changes at the I-81/Halfway Boulevard interchange today with the old bridge closing and a new loop road opening.

The loop road from southbound I-81 to eastbound Halfway Boulevard is expected to open today to make getting to the Valley Mall and Wesel Boulevard shopping district easier, Rakowski said.

Until now drivers taking southbound I-81 to eastbound Halfway Boulevard had to stop at a traffic light before turning left on Halfway Boulevard.

That left turn will be closed, but drivers taking southbound I-81 to westbound Halfway Boulevard will still be able to use the same exit, Rakowski said.

With the new loop road there will be no stop light for drivers taking southbound I-81 to eastbound Halfway Boulevard, she said.

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