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Broadfording bridge reopens

September 28, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY

erinc@herald-mail.com

Chuck McCann waited more than two years for easy access to his home. Tuesday evening, he and 20 of his neighbors were still waiting patiently to shed the frustration and inconvenience that has plagued residents along Broadfording Road.

The residents held scissors aimed at a thin red ribbon stretched across the bridge which runs over Conococheague Creek near Hopps Landing Road.

At 5:36 p.m., there were simultaneous snips.

Cheers, hugs and handshakes followed as the bridge was opened to traffic.

McCann lives off of Broadfording Road and said the bridge, which has been closed since June 2003 for construction, once gave residents easy access to U.S. 40. The detour, and other roundabout routes residents discovered, often took McCann and others as much as six miles out of their way.

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"I never got used to the other routes," Ruth Mira said.

The bridge, built in 1829, underwent repairs in 1977 and closed again in 2003 for a complete rehabilitation. Gary Rohrer, Washington County's director of public works, said the bridge was in disrepair at the time.

McCann said there was concern that ambulance and police service would be delayed to his neighborhood.

"There were many of us out here who felt extremely neglected for a long time," he said.

The bridge was scheduled to open in October 2003, but a dispute with a contractor kept the bridge closed and led to increased spending on the project. Washington County spent $1.4 million for the stone arch bridge, Rohrer said.

"We've been waiting," McCann said. "We come to check on (the bridge) all the time. We're very happy to see it open."

Along with increased commutes, less obvious inconveniences were blamed on bridge construction.

"I can't even get a pizza delivered," said Ray Oberg, who lives near the bridge.

Late at night, he had to drive to the bridge and meet a pizza delivery person. He said it looked like a "shady deal," as he stood on the bridge handing over cash, taking the pizza and driving back home.

As residents checked on the bridge, almost daily, many said they noticed bridge construction had been done for about one week. Rohrer said the bridge was not ready one week ago, and work was only completed Tuesday morning. A traffic barrier was not finished, he said.

"There is definitely some satisfaction here," Mira said. "Our community is so much safer."

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