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Funkstown bridge work now scheduled to start Aug. 19

August 15, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

FUNKSTOWN -- A one-lane bridge in Funkstown will be closed for repairs on Aug. 19, Washington County Public Works Deputy Director Robert J. Slocum said Thursday.

Work on the stone arch bridge on East Oak Ridge Drive had been scheduled to begin Aug. 4, but paperwork delays have pushed that date back about two weeks, Slocum said.

Delaying the start date also will delay the expected completion date, Slocum said.

The construction contract now will end on Jan. 15, 2009, instead of Dec. 31, 2008, although there are financial incentives for the contractor to finish early.

Because the project is 80 percent funded by the Federal Highway Administration, the Maryland State Highway Administration must review and approve the construction contract and related documents, Slocum said.

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"It's a minor paperwork delay," said Slocum, who noted that the SHA usually takes between four and six weeks to approve contracts and other documents. "In this case, it took six weeks to get concurrence instead of four weeks."

The bridge will be closed for six months during the rehabilitation. Traffic will be rerouted to Wilson Boulevard during construction.

Slocum said electronic signs warning drivers about the impending closure were scheduled to be set up Thursday afternoon.

The bridge closure will begin a six-month detour that has been heavily criticized over the last several months.

Some merchants in and around Funkstown protested the closure earlier this year, saying much of their business comes from the estimated 9,000 vehicles that travel over the bridge every day.

Several business owners suggested installing a temporary bridge during construction so the road could be kept open.

But county officials said the permit approvals and right-of-way acquisitions that would be required for a temporary bridge would delay the start of the project into next year.

County engineers said the bridge is in immediate need of repair and that such a delay would be unacceptable.

After months of debate and two public meetings on the issue, the Washington County Commissioners voted in early July to accept a construction bid for the project from Building Systems Inc. of Hagerstown, effectively allowing the closure to go forward.

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