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Arts district leaves stamp on Hagerstown

July 02, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Workers are expected to finish stamping artistic symbols into the pavement in the first block of South Potomac Street sometime this afternoon, forcing motorists to take detours for the second day in a row, city officials said.

On Tuesday, that portion of the street was closed so a work crew from Laurel Asphalt of Johnstown, Pa., could begin inlaying into the pavement thermoplastic impressions of musical notes and theatrical masks representing comedy and tragedy to help identify the area as the Arts and Entertainment District, said Nathan Baker, project manager for Stamper Builders.

City officials hired Stamper Builders last year to oversee a $425,000 upgrade of the first block of South Potomac Street

Seven of the 11 inlays, which are being spaced about 40 feet apart, were finished Tuesday, Baker said. The remaining four should be finished today.

John Rugg, owner and general manager of Laurel Asphalt, said the thermoplastic symbols were placed into pre-stamped indentations in the pavement, then melted into place with infrared heat. The top of the symbols were set a fraction of an inch below the surface of the street, in part, to prevent snowplows from doing damage, he said.

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"It will last for the life of the asphalt," Rugg said.

Inlaying the thermoplastic symbols is one of the last steps in the process to improve South Potomac Street, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said. Earlier this year, workers finished widening the sidewalks and repaving the street.

"We're trying to make the Arts and Entertainment District as distinctive as possible within a reasonable cost," Tissue said. "I think that's what we did."

Tissue said the project would be completed when workers finish renovating the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts at 9-11 S. Potomac St. When that happens, contractors will finish constructing the sidewalk in front of the building, he said.

Washington County Public Schools officials have said they expect the school to be finished in 2009.

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