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Funkstown bridge could open early

December 09, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

FUNKSTOWN - The refurbished bridge on East Oak Ridge Drive in Funkstown could reopen to traffic as early as Friday, more than a month ahead of schedule, if weather permits, county officials said.

The only work that remains to be done before it can open is to put down pavement markings, put up a guardrail on the approach to the bridge and change the signage, Washington County Deputy Director of Public Works Robert Slocum said Monday.

The one-lane, stone-arch bridge over Antietam Creek has been closed since August for repairs, detouring traffic and drawing complaints from nearby businesses. Work was scheduled to wrap up Jan. 15, but good weather has put the project ahead of schedule, Slocum said.

An early opening would earn the contractor, Building Systems Inc., a bonus of up to $45,000, or $1,500 per day for up to 30 days ahead of schedule, Slocum said.

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The early completion incentive applies from the date when the work is "substantially complete," meaning open to traffic and complying with safety regulations, he said. After the bridge opens, crews will continue repointing the arches, which is done below the roadway and will not affect traffic, he said.

Crews are counting on good weather today for pavement marking, which they hope to complete before rain that is forecast for Wednesday, Slocum said.

Nearby business owners said the early opening is good news, but they would have liked to have seen it happen sooner.

"The bridge itself has been basically done for a while," said Steve Demory, owner of Demory's Christmas Memories in the South Pointe Shopping Center. "When you get to the point when you can physically see that the thing is done, you start to wonder what's taking so long."

Demory, who led an unsuccessful effort to get a temporary bridge installed before the project began, said he thinks his sales have gone down at least 20 percent since the bridge closure. Some customers have told him they forget to stop in because they don't drive past the store anymore, he said.

"We're ... trying to catch some of the Christmas business," Demory said. "Early isn't going to make much difference when we're going to lose the rest of the season."

Dave Peacher, owner of the Quiznos restaurant at South Pointe Shopping Center, said his business was down about 50 percent since the bridge closed.

"It's certainly been devastating out here," Peacher said.

In a news release Monday, Washington County Director of Public Works Joseph Kroboth extended appreciation to those inconvenienced by the project.

"We know it has been a difficult project for the community of Funkstown and the county as a whole, but we do appreciate everyone's cooperation," Kroboth said.

The $1.3 million project was 80 percent funded with federal money, county spokesman Norman Bassett said.

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