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South County bridge work postponed

December 15, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

SHARPSBURG -- Washington County officials have decided to postpone work on the Harpers Ferry Road bridge over Antietam Creek until a flooding problem on the detour route is resolved, public works officials said.

The county planned to start a six-month rehabilitation project on the bridge early next spring but, at a public meeting about the project Nov. 25, some residents expressed concerns about frequent flooding on Mills Road, which would serve as part of the detour during the bridge work, said Robert J. Slocum, deputy director of public works.

The county already planned to improve that section of Mills Road, so public works officials decided to move that project up to earlier in the spring and postpone the Harpers Ferry Road bridge work until it is done, Slocum said.

"We did feel that was a valid concern because of the emergency services response times and so forth," he said.

When Harpers Ferry Road is closed, Mills Road will become one of the only routes to access the southern part of the county, aside from Md. 67, Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth on Tuesday told the Washington County Commissioners.

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Mills Road has a low-level culvert where a stream passes under the road and, after heavy rains, the road tends to flood, Slocum said. Improvements will involve removing the two pipes and installing a precast bridge, he said. The bridge will allow water to pass under more quickly and alleviate the flooding, he said.

The Mills Road and Harpers Ferry Road bridge projects were in the capital improvement plan for this fiscal year, county spokesman Norman Bassett said.

The Mills Road project should take about four or five months, Kroboth said. If it is started early enough, the county might be able to begin the bridge rehabilitation in mid- to late summer 2009, but it is possible it might need to be pushed back to the summer of 2010, he said.

State Highway Administration officials have assured the county that federal funding for the bridge rehabilitation will remain intact even if work is delayed until next summer, Kroboth said.

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