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Crane, painting projects cause traffic congestion

August 02, 2005|by HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN

heatherk@herald-mail.com

Traffic backed up in three directions Monday morning in downtown Hagerstown when a crane delivery at The Herald-Mail Co. on Summit Avenue conflicted with a painting project at the former Colonial Hotel building on West Antietam Street, city officials said.

Summit Avenue was closed to all but local traffic from Baltimore Street to West Antietam Street at 6:30 a.m. so a crane could unload and assemble a steel platform on the west side of The Herald-Mail offices at 100 Summit Ave., said Herald-Mail operations director Mark Kelly.

The platform will be used to bring a new color press tower - a large, heavy piece of machinery - through a window and into the pressroom on Aug. 18, Kelly said.

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Around the corner, the owner of the former Colonial Hotel building at 55-59 S. Potomac St. closed the westbound lane of West Antietam Street from the district courthouse to South Potomac Street to allow room for painting the exterior of the building's south side, said Assistant City Engineer Jim Bender.

Between this painting project and another at the neighboring Dagmar Hotel, the westbound lane of that block of West Antietam Street might remain closed for about two weeks, Bender said.

Both the Summit Avenue and West Antietam Street closures were approved by the city, but Bender said planners had not anticipated Summit Avenue would be completely blocked. Around 10 a.m., an inspector asked the Summit Avenue work crew to move the crane partially onto the sidewalk, allowing one lane of traffic to pass.

"It was just a mess," said Pete Hawbaker, the Herald-Mail's building maintenance manager, who was directing traffic on Baltimore Street. He said traffic at one point was backed up on Summit Avenue as far as City Park.

Bender said he hopes the West Antietam Street painting projects will be finished by Aug. 18, when Summit Avenue will have to be closed completely for most of the day to allow a much bigger, 150-ton crane to deliver the press tower. City officials are discussing a detour plan, he said.

Plans will also be in place to relocate fire engines from Antietam Fire Co. at 113 Summit Ave., directly across from the newspaper office, Hawbaker said.

Kelly said the newspaper company tried to arrange for the tower to be delivered on a Sunday to ease traffic issues, but could not work that out with the crane company.

The new color press tower will allow up to 16 additional pages to be printed in color, Kelly said.

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