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Eastern Blvd. widening slated to begin this year

January 09, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

HAGERSTOWN - A $5.5 million project to widen a heavily traveled section of Eastern Boulevard is set to begin this year.

The approximately six-tenths of a mile between the Centre at Antietam and Jefferson Boulevard will be expanded from one lane in each direction to two, and much of the stretch will have a concrete median, according to Assistant City Engineer Jim Bender.

"We're in the process of trying to finalize agreements with property owners," Bender said, explaining right-of-way agreements needed to be obtained for about 15 properties.

Settlements should be complete in February or March, and recently revised construction plans from Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson of Baltimore then will be prepared for bids, Bender said.

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That means construction could start in early summer, he said.

"Their best estimate is that this will take a full construction season," Bender said. Construction likely will stop in the winter and resume in the spring of 2008, he said.

The project will be split into phases, with one side of the road being done at a time. Officials expect construction will further delay afternoon traffic.

Estimates shown on plans are that at least 30,500 vehicles will be using the road each day in 2025. It supported 20,000 vehicles daily in 2003.

"Everyone agrees it needs to be done," Bender said. "They all understand this is an important project."

He said increasing oil costs have affected project costs, which are being estimated closer to $6 million.

"To this point, this is all city-funded," Bender said.

The City Council created a form of assessment in which developers will fund the construction based on the square footage of their buildings.

The reconstructed road, which will have a 40-mph speed limit, will have turning lanes and a hybrid traffic light at Opal Court. The light will stop traffic traveling north so traffic exiting Hub Plaza from Opal Court can turn left.

"I don't know if there are any other traffic lights in the city like that," Bender said.

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