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Funkstown bypass moving up on the list

December 14, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

FUNKSTOWN -- Construction on the long-discussed Funkstown bypass, referred to as Southern Boulevard, could begin in the fall of 2010 to the spring of 2011, said Rob Slocum, Washington County's deputy director of Public Works.

The bypass eventually is to extend from East Oak Ridge Drive, west of Funkstown, to Dual Highway. The first phase of the project calls for building the leg from East Oak Ridge Drive to Alternate U.S. 40 north of Funkstown and does not involve a bridge.

Funkstown Mayor Robert Kline welcomes the progress. The bypass has been talked about at least since he became mayor in 1980, Kline said.

"It would be wonderful. There's so much traffic through town. A lot of people are hollering about it and there isn't anything I can do," said Kline, who added that he has been working on the traffic issue with state road officials.

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Slocum said the project has been listed on the county's capital improvement projects budget for years, but its schedule was moved up when the one-lane bridge into Funkstown from East Oak Ridge Drive had to be rehabilitated in 2008.

When that bridge was closed, the need for another route bumped up the timeline for funding Southern Boulevard, Slocum said. In 2008, the boulevard was set to start receiving funding in fiscal year 2013, but that moved up to fiscal year 2009 so design could begin.

There are several benefits to having the planned roadway, including alleviating everyday traffic, providing another route for heavy truck traffic that cannot use the one-lane bridge over Antietam Creek and providing another route for emergency service vehicles, Slocum said.

The county already has $4.7 million secured for the first phase of the two-phase roadway, Slocum said.

In 2010, Slocum said he expects the design for Phase 1 of the bypass to be completed, for the necessary land to be purchased and for utilities to be relocated, with the earliest possible start date for construction in the fall.

The first leg, being called Southern Boulevard I, will not go through any existing homes or close enough to homes for county officials to anticipate the need to take all of anyone's property, Slocum said.

County officials plan to acquire enough land to make way eventually for a four-lane road to accommodate future growth in traffic volume, but initially, the road will be two lanes, Slocum said.

The road would come out on East Oak Ridge Drive, creating a four-way intersection with a realigned East Oak Ridge Drive and Villa Ridge Drive, which is east of South Pointe Center, according to county documents. The realigned East Oak Ridge Drive will have a more obvious curve on its way to the Funkstown bridge. So at the proposed intersection, drivers heading east on East Oak Ridge Drive would go straight to continue on Southern Boulevard I, or turn right to stay on East Oak Ridge Drive and cross the Funkstown bridge.

The road would intersect Alternate U.S. 40 near vacant land and just south of a hill on Alternate U.S. 40. Because of that hill, the state highway will need to be graded to improve the line of sight at the future intersection, Slocum said.

Construction on the first leg is expected to take 18 months, meaning it could be completed by spring 2012 if work starts on time and doesn't hit delays, Slocum said.

Phase two of Southern Boulevard is scheduled for funding in fiscal years 2017 through 2019, with a preliminary cost of $15 million, Slocum said. That stretch would call for a bridge over Antietam Creek and would connect Alt. U.S. 40 with Dual Highway.

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