Fix-up finale in sight

U.S. 40

October 29, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

Major work on the Maryland Highway Administration's U.S. 40 Streetscape project will be completed by Thanksgiving, which is not a moment too soon for motorists, downtown businesses and city officials, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said.

Tissue said he has received calls from downtown businesses asking when the $1.7 million state project, which started in April, will be finished.

"They want to see the end come. We all want to see that," he said. "We are close."

As part of the state-funded contract, the contractor is not allowed to close any lanes after Thanksgiving as the holiday season approaches, Tissue said. While some minor work could be done after that date, it would not affect traffic, he said.


The contractor primarily was working a five-day week but is now working six and seven days a week, Maryland Highway Administration spokeswoman Lori Rakowski said.

There are lane shifts and lane closures on parts of West Washington Street and West Franklin Street because of the work, Tissue said.

This week, Jonathan Street will be closed at Washington and Franklin after 6 p.m., he said.

Patty Kucharski, co-owner of the Morninglory Emporium at 27 W. Washington St., and Rachel O'Connor, owner of Carol & Company at 25 W. Washington St., said sales have dropped in recent weeks due to the Streetscape work.

Kucharski said she has called city and state officials to try to get the work finished earlier but "we have no say in it."

Customers are complaining because some parking spaces can't be used because of the work, she said.

O'Connor said her customers are asking when the work when be completed and when new trees will be planted.

About 40 trees, mostly Bradford pear trees, were removed from downtown Hagerstown as part of the Streetscape improvements, Tissue said.

Those trees will be replaced in about two weeks with American Hornbeam and Ivory Silk Japanese Tree Lilacs, Tissue said.

Some of the asphalt sidewalks have been torn up and replaced with red bricks to make downtown more attractive, Tissue said. The city requested that change.

Kucharski said she thinks the bricks are a nice addition.

Sarah Ardinger, owner of The Plum at 6 Rochester Place off Washington Street, said the Streetscape work has had a major negative impact on that business.

Customers are complaining about how long it takes to get to the restaurant because of traffic delays and about the decreased number of parking spaces, she said.

New brick crosswalks will be built at major intersections between Potomac and Walnut, Tissue said. The crosswalks are intended to remind drivers that they are in a pedestrian area, he said.

The work is part of the second phase of Streetscape.

The $876,363 first phase, done from June 1999 to May 2000, involved work on East Franklin and East Washington streets, extending from Cannon Avenue to Potomac Street.

The Hagerstown City Council voted in July to send the state a letter confirming interest in a third phase. The third phase would start at Walnut Street and proceed west, Tissue said. That work would not begin for a few years, he said.

The city posts summaries of Streetscape-related work on the city Internet page at

The Herald-Mail Articles