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Bridge work 'a big hassle'

March 19, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

For people who live near the Broadfording Road bridge - which has been shut down for repairs for more than nine months - a fix can't come soon enough.

The stone arch bridge, which crosses the Conococheague Creek, may be closed for another nine months.

A contract for the bridge work was awarded in April 2003. The county was dissatisfied with the pace of the work and terminated the contract this month, Chief Engineer Terry McGee said Wednesday.

If another contract and construction go according to plan, the bridge should be fixed by the end of the year, he said.

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Diane Baker of 16338 Broadfording Road called the detours "a big hassle."

Baker said she and her husband, Mark, live in the first house on the west side of the bridge - the wrong side, as long as the bridge is out.

Going east to Md. 63, on the way to U.S. 40, used to take a couple of minutes.

Since the bridge closed, the Bakers, and their neighbors, have had to drive west on Broadfording Road, bear right onto Gossard Mill Road and double back to the east on Md. 494, until they get to Md. 63, where they go south.

Julie Harbaugh of 16138 Broadfording Road, who lives slightly west of the Bakers, has measured the detour at 5.6 miles - compared to about a half-mile when the bridge was open.

Residents said they can take another path - Broadfording Road west to Rockdale Road, south to U.S. 40 - but it's no better.

Julie Harbaugh's mother-in-law, Eileen Harbaugh, who lives at 16200 Broadfording Road, said, "If a (county) commissioner was sitting here, where I live, that bridge would be done."

In April 2003, the county awarded BEKA Industries of Pasadena, Md., a $693,000 contract to repair the bridge.

The bridge was closed around the beginning of June as work started. The project was to be finished at the end of October, McGee said.

In addition to dissatisfaction with the progress of the work, the county was at an impasse with BEKA Industries over the cost of additional work, which contributed to the contract termination, McGee said.

Two BEKA Industries employees referred questions to company President Jim Reinhardt, who did not return messages left at his office Wednesday and Thursday.

The project is going back out to bid. McGee said the county hopes construction will start again by early August and be finished by the end of the year.

BEKA Industries is working on another project in Washington County, but it's a State Highway Administration contract, not a county contract.

State Highway Administration spokeswoman Adrienne Cousler said the $924,000 contract is to remove and replace the deck of the McDade Road bridge at U.S. 40. The contract also includes rehabilitating concrete piers and resurfacing the road leading to the bridge.

Cousler said the contract started in August 2003 and is scheduled to be finished at the end of the coming summer.

McGee said the Broadfording Road bridge is more than 100 years old. Its spandrel walls, or outside walls, are damaged. A large chunk of one wall fell into the Conococheague Creek.

Mortar is falling away. The foundation needs to be shored, he said.

The last work on the project was done around the end of November, McGee said.

BEKA Industries submitted the lowest of five bids to win the contract in April 2003.

Change orders for other work, such as the removal of debris and the recovery of stones, increased the cost to $763,000, McGee said. The federal government was scheduled to pay for 80 percent of the project, he said.

He said BEKA Industries can put in a claim for what it should be paid.

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