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State proposes funding projects

October 03, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Maryland Department of Transportation has proposed $34 million in projects for Washington County over a six-year period, state officials said Thursday during a visit to the county by Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan.

State Highway Administrator Neil Pederson said funding for three major projects in Washington County are proposed in a draft of the fiscal years 2004-2009 Maryland Consolidated Transportation Program.

The transportation budget calls for $545,000 for a $1.5 million study of the proposed widening of the 12 miles of Interstate 81 in Washington County, which officials called a priority project.

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The budget states that $955,000 has already been spent on the study.

The widening project, which also includes improvements to interchanges, is anticipated to total $400 million, Pederson said.

The study is the only expense listed for the I-81 widening project over the next six years.

According to the budget, $5.9 million is earmarked for the Shepherdstown Pike (Md. 63) bridge replacement over the Potomac River, with $2.1 million already spent and the remaining $3.8 million to come over the next six years.

Construction on that project is under way. West Virginia and Maryland are paying the costs.

The Department of Transportation plans to spend $8.2 million to rehabilitate and widen two bridges along Interstate 70 over Great Tonoloway Creek near Hancock, Pederson said.

The project, which has begun, is expected to be complete in late 2004, state officials said.

Flanagan said a top goal of the Transportation Department is to make sure travelers are safe on Maryland's roads. State officials said improving the roads also may help save lives.

"The roads are not as safe as we want them to be," Flanagan said.

Pederson said more than 660 people were killed in traffic accidents last year, more than the number of homicides in the state last year. Pederson said 502 homicides took place in Maryland last year.

"This is unacceptable from our perspective," Pederson said.

In 2002, Washington County had 26 traffic fatalities, compared to four homicides, he said.

Flanagan said Gov. Robert Ehrlich hopes to increase Department of Transportation money, saying Maryland ranks 47th in the country in highway spending.

"We think that we need to have a more balanced transportation program," Flanagan said. "When we are 47th in our investments in our highways, that is not balanced."

Other projects proposed for Washington County include:

--The rehabilitation of a bridge on Jefferson Pike over the Potomac River to the Frederick County line. That project is anticipated to start in fiscal year 2005 and cost $1.43 million.

--The resurfacing of Mapleville Road from Fish Hatchery Road to Md. 64 for $965,000. Construction for that project is under way.

--$919,000 for a bridge deck replacement over McDade Road. That project is under construction.

--A $1.1 million realignment to Mapleville Road beginning a just south of San Mar Road to just north of Benevola Church Road. That project is under construction.

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