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Widening Maugans Avenue delayed

May 01, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Work to widen Maugans Avenue was scheduled to begin Monday, but a Washington County official said the project has been delayed indefinitely.

"Today was the day they are supposed to be out in the roadway and really making some people's lives miserable," said Terry McGee, the county's chief engineer.

But a utility company is behind schedule, he said.

The project includes widening Maugans Avenue from two lanes to five lanes from U.S. 11 to the Interstate 81 interchange, adding turn lanes at the intersection of Maugans and Pennsylvania avenues, and installing traffic signals at both of the I-81 ramps. Officials said the construction part of the project is expected to cost $7.4 million.

Companies including Antietam Cable, Allegheny Power and Verizon were to complete some tasks in preparation for the roadwork, McGee said. While Antietam and Allegheny have completed the bulk of their work, which includes moving some utility poles, Verizon is behind schedule, he said.

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A company spokeswoman said Monday that Verizon officials are not behind schedule and have not been told that they are. Sandra Arnette said the company is responsible for placing new poles, running cable from the old utility poles to the new ones and removing the old poles.

She said a final pole will be removed today, and next week work will begin to move a phone box that contains wires connecting phone customers. Arnette said that work is not expected to be completed until June.

McGee said the first phase of the project, which includes work to the intersection of Maugans and Pennsylvania avenues was to begin Monday. That phase was expected to be completed by October, when the widening of Maugans Avenue would begin.

The entire project was expected to last through July 2008 and cause some major headaches for motorists, he said.

"We're expecting some consistent traffic tie-ups until (the road project) is complete," McGee said. "There's just nowhere we can put all this traffic. It has to go through the site. Basically, if you don't have to (drive) through there, don't. About the only thing you can do is avoid it."

He estimates that about 18,000 vehicles travel on the two-lane road daily.

In preparation for the traffic delays, McGee said county officials have warned motorists through public meetings, signs and a Web site.

The portable signs that have been placed on roads near where the construction is to begin have warned that delays were expected beginning Monday.

"We can't even change the sign," he said. "Because we just don't know when this is going to start now."

Detours are not being posted, and McGee said there really are only two alternative routes: taking either Showalter Road or Salem Avenue to get to I-81.

"And both are relatively far away," he said.

Officials are hoping that the majority of Pennsylvania drivers that continue from Longmeadow Road to Maugans Avenue find an alternative route.

"Those coming from the east are kind of stuck," McGee said. "There are no better direct routes. That's also where the bulk of the traffic is from."




For details on the Maugans Avenue roadwork, go to www.washcomd.net.

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