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Eastern Blvd. bypass not likely until 2016

June 17, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Construction work on a road that would ease traffic congestion on Eastern Boulevard probably won't begin until 2016, Washington County Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth III said.

The proposed road would be built behind the Stone House Square shopping center and extend from Eastern Boulevard near the Hagerstown YMCA to Md. 60 at Marsh Pike, Kroboth said Tuesday.

Holcim Inc., the cement company that owns the land on which the road would be constructed, is in the process of working out an agreement with Washington County and Hagerstown city officials to establish rights of way to build the four-lane road.

Kroboth said if everything goes as planned, Holcim Inc. would donate the land.

"It (land) would be no cost to the county," Kroboth said. "The land value far exceeds $1 million. It's going to save the taxpayers at least a million dollars in right-of-way costs."

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Kroboth said the county has been negotiating with Holcim Inc. to acquire the land for about 15 months. The road won't be constructed for at least six years because money won't be available until then, he said.

In addition to building an extension from Eastern Boulevard to Marsh Pike, the county wants to relocate Old Forge Road farther north and build a park on 95 acres of land to the east of the Cortland Manor residential development, Kroboth said.

The relocated Old Forge Road would stretch about 6,500 feet from just above Kline Access Lane to the new road in the area of Cortland Manor, according to documents. The existing Old Forge Road would be closed after the new one is built.

Holcim Inc. would pay the cost to relocate the road, then use the new stretch to continue excavating in that area, Kroboth said.

The park would include six softball fields, five soccer fields and two tennis courts, according to documents.

Kroboth said the county would build the park on land that Holcim Inc. would provide at no cost.

Robert Slocum, deputy public works director for Washington County, said Wednesday it is estimated the portion of the project that would extend the road from Eastern Boulevard to Marsh Pike would cost about $9 million. That segment of the project would include a bridge and water and sewer infrastructure.

The cost to build the park would be about $1.1 million, while the expense to relocate Old Forge Road is unknown, he said.

"It is just a concept at this point," Slocum said.

Earlier this week, the Hagerstown City Council discussed entering into an agreement with the county and Holcim Inc. to acquire the land so the city could be involved in the process.

The council is to vote Tuesday on whether to accept the agreement.

Rodney Tissue, engineer for the City of Hagerstown, told the council it should give its blessing.

He said the city should be included in the planning -- even though the land is in the county -- because the city might annex the property at a later date.

Tissue said the extension needs to be built primarily to alleviate traffic congestion at the intersection of Eastern Boulevard and Md. 60.

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