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Bridging the gap in time

Capital plan calls for $15.1 million in bridge projects

Capital plan calls for $15.1 million in bridge projects

March 16, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Washington County is planning to spend $15.1 million on 34 bridge projects over the next six years.

Among them is the concrete Marble Quarry Road Bridge, which is scheduled to be replaced in fiscal year 2010.

The county's proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for fiscal years 2007 to 2012 states the bridge is "near the end of its useful life."

Repairs including traffic barrier upgrades and concrete fill for the East Oak Ridge Drive Bridge near Funkstown are estimated to cost $778,000. The engineering and design for that project is scheduled for fiscal year 2007, and construction is proposed to be completed in fiscal year 2008.

Both structures are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The county has 261 bridges, 90 of which meet the federal definition of 20 feet or longer.

"They are costly," Chief Engineer Terry McGee said. "They're costly to maintain, and they're costly to construct."

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In fiscal year 2007, which begins July 1, the county has proposed $1.89 million in bridge projects.

McGee said the county receives about $800,000 a year in federal aid for the repair and rehabilitation of bridges, but there are certain requirements the county must meet to be eligible for the money.

While there's a lot of paperwork involved, McGee said, "with such a large chunk of money involved, we can't turn it away."

Bridge repairs have become extensive enough that the county hired a bridge engineer to focus on the projects, and just recently hired an engineer technician for assistance.

Washington County resident Pat Schooley, a Maryland Historic Trust board member, said she'd like the county to repair Price's Bridge over Conococheague Creek near the Pennsylvania border.

The bridge, which isn't on the county's proposed six-year CIP, is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and is falling apart, she said.

To be eligible, a structure or place must be at least 50 years old and meet certain architectural requirements or have had an historic event take place there, she said.

The county's Web site describes the bridge as a five-arch stone bridge that was built by Lloyd's of Pennsylvania to replace a wooden structure.

Schooley said she believes residents are interested in maintaining the county's historic character, which includes maintaining certain historic bridges.

"Just the general public are really concerned about their history," she said.

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