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Growing traffic driving 15 construction projects

Nearly $65 million to be spent on improvements

Nearly $65 million to be spent on improvements

October 07, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN and DAN DEARTH

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Fifteen road construction projects totaling nearly $65 million are under way or will be started in the next few months in Washington County.

Funding methods vary depending on the project.

Most of the projects are jointly funded by the City of Hagerstown and Washington County, while several others will receive funding from the Maryland State Highway Administration.

The most expensive project, which involves realigning U.S. 11 and Air View Road to accommodate the runway extension at Hagerstown Regional Airport, has a price tag of about $18.5 million. Construction started in September 2005 and is slated to end this month.

By comparison, the least expensive project costs about $51,000. It involves widening a turn lane at Sherman Avenue and Burhans Boulevard.

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City and county officials said road congestion was a driving factor behind many of the projects.

Maugans Avenue, Edgewood Drive and the intersection of Sherman Avenue and Burhans Boulevard, among others, are being widened to accommodate increased traffic.

"It's because development has happened faster than anybody thought," said Tim Young, engineering designer with the City of Hagerstown.

Young used as an example the project to widen Eastern Boulevard from Conrad Court to Md. 64.

When that stretch of road was completed in 1989, consultants estimated that weekday traffic would reach 12,400 vehicles by 2010, Young said.

In 1998, weekday traffic there already had reached 17,500 vehicles per day, Young said. The most recent study, in June 2006, showed weekday traffic had reached 20,700 vehicles.

Joseph Kroboth, director of public works for Washington County, said additional turn lanes are being added to several intersections in the county to accommodate increased volume.

A project at U.S. 40 and Edgewood Drive will add turning lanes in every direction.

Almost 34,000 vehicles traveled through the intersection each weekday in 2006, compared to fewer than 23,000 per day in 1996, said Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration.

Other reasons for road work include repairing worn-out roads and the underlying infrastructure.

Young said workers began replacing water and sewer lines last summer underneath the intersection of Maryland Avenue and West Wilson Boulevard, and a massive project is being discussed that would completely overhaul Jonathan Street with new utility lines, storm drains and sidewalks.

Kroboth said two of the county's upcoming projects will involve repairing masonry on stone bridges south of Hagerstown.

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