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Residents willing to put up with inconvenience for a while

July 09, 2005|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Residents living near the Broadfording Road bridge once again are inconvenienced by its closure, but some said Friday it's a problem they're willing to endure - temporarily.

Once the contractor finishes repairs to the stone four-arch bridge over Conococheague Creek near Hagerstown, they said they're looking forward to the structure being open permanently.

"I'm just glad that somebody's doing something on it," Broadfording Road resident Eileen Harbaugh said Friday. "It'll be nice when it's open."

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Residents of the area put up with the bridge being closed for more than a year, while problems arose between Washington County and the contractor originally hired to repair the bridge.

The county first closed the approximately 175-year-old bridge for repairs in June 2003. It was to be finished later that year, but the county and the original contractor couldn't agree on the cost of additional work needed because of weather-related damage to the bridge.

The County Commissioners terminated that contract in March 2004 and later hired Building Systems Inc. of Hagerstown to do the repairs for $1.4 million.

The cost of the project is about $707,000 more than what the county originally budgeted.

Building Systems repaired the bridge enough for it to reopen in January, but planned to close it again in late spring when the weather was nice enough to finish the repairs.

According to the county's Web site, the bridge closed again on June 8.

County Engineer Terry McGee said the county anticipates the repairs to be finished by Sept. 30.

"I have no complaints right now," Harbaugh said. "If they run past the end of September, I'll start complaining again."

The length of the bridge's initial closure sparked numerous complaints from residents, who said the closed bridge forced them to take longer routes to and from home, spend more on gas and could have increased fire, police and ambulance response times in emergencies.

"It's still an inconvenience, but at least the contractor doing the repairs seems to be actually working on it," Broadfording Road resident Terry Stotlemyer said Friday.

Stotlemyer said he has visited the bridge several times and that it appears that the repairs are progressing.

"I can't wait until it reopens permanently," he said.

The bridge was built in 1829 by Lloyd's of Pennsylvania.

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