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Funkstown bridge project recognized

October 19, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

FUNKSTOWN -- Last year's Funkstown bridge rehabilitation project was selected as "County Project of the Year" by the County Engineers Association of Maryland for its unique design and construction administration, Washington County Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth said.

The association, a group of engineers and public works officials from throughout the state, presented the award at its annual conference in September, Kroboth said. The Funkstown bridge rehabilitation was selected over nine other projects submitted for consideration by other Maryland counties, he said.

The project involved filling the 175-year-old stone arch bridge on East Oak Ridge Drive with reinforced concrete to strengthen it while preserving its original stone masonry. It was the subject of heated controversy for months before the construction began last summer as nearby business owners urged the county to install a temporary bridge to prevent detours they said would take business away from the South Pointe Shopping Center.

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"Due to the controversy originally, and the fact that it is historic preservation and it went so well, it was quite an honor to get recognized," said George A. Stone, president of Building Systems Inc. of Hagerstown, the general contractor for the project.

The project was finished ahead of schedule and slightly under its $1.3 million budget, Deputy Director of Public Works Robert J. Slocum said.

"It's nice to be recognized on the county's behalf, in that the staff here in public works worked ambitiously to get the job done on time and in a cost-effective nature," Slocum said.

Slocum said credit was due to Building Systems Inc. and Gruber Building and Restoration LLC of Williamsport, the subcontractor that did the masonry work, which he said did a "fantastic job."

The project design manager, Robert D. Lynch of Sparks, Md.-based KCI Technologies, also said he was grateful for the recognition.

The project strengthened the bridge enough that it will accommodate all legal loads, which is a challenge on historic bridges, Lynch said.

"You're limited," he said. "You can't change the structure at all as far as the exterior appearance. The only leeway we had was kind of working inside the bridge that you don't really see from the outside."

Crews took down all of the stonework, filled the bridge with concrete and steel, cleaned the stones and put them back up, Stone said.

Hard work, cooperation and a dry fall contributed to the contractor's ability to finish about a month ahead of schedule, Stone said.

"After all was said and done, I think everyone was pleased," he said. "I think everyone had the impression that it was going to take longer."

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