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County to get $100 million for roads projects

October 08, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County will receive about $100 million for roads projects over the next six years, part of Maryland's first increase in transportation funding in more than a decade, state Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said Thursday.

State officials also said two projects already under construction would continue to receive funding in a draft of the fiscal years 2005-2010 Maryland Consolidated Transportation Plan.

Those projects are repairs of bridges over the Great Tonoloway Creek along Interstate 70 and over the Potomac River on Shepherdstown Pike.

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Flanagan announced the funding during a stop in Washington County to discuss the draft Consolidated Transportation Plan.

State Highway Administrator Neil Pedersen said making safety improvements to Interstate 81 in Washington County is also a top priority, but so far only the planning stages of that proposed project are funded.

The state has proposed placing toll booths along the interstate near the Pennsylvania and West Virginia borders to raise money for the improvements.

Flanagan said the $100 million announced for Washington County includes $70 million in highway user revenues (HURs) over the next six years.

Highway user revenues are generated by the state's gas tax. Washington County sustained a 26 percent budget cut in HURs last year, which limited the number and type of road repairs it could perform, county officials have said.

Flanagan said the money will help the county keep up with roads projects.

"Your county has to stay ahead of the curve, and your citizens will suffer if you don't," said Flanagan.

The draft plan includes funding for the following major projects this fiscal year:

· $1.6 million is earmarked for the final stages of the rehabilitation and widening of two bridges over the Great Tonoloway Creek along Interstate 70. The total cost of the project is $8.2 million. The project is expected to be completed later this year, Pedersen said.

· $1.7 million is included for the Shepherdstown Pike (Md. 34) bridge replacement over the Potomac River. West Virginia and Maryland are sharing the costs of the project. The bridge is expected to open in the summer of 2005, Pedersen said. Maryland's share of the project is $6.5 million.

· $1 million is planned for a study to improve Interstate 81's 12-mile stretch in Washington County. The proposed improvements might include widening the highway and extending acceleration/deceleration lanes.

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