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Acceleration lane at I-81/I-70 interchange to be extended

Construction on the roughly $6 million state project is expected to begin in late June or early July

March 08, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Merging from southbound Interstate 81 to westbound Interstate 70 will soon become easier and safer because of a state plan to extend an acceleration lane at that interchange, officials said Tuesday. Construction on the roughly $6 million state project is expected to begin in late June or early July, Maryland State Highway Administration spokeswoman Lora Rakowski said.
By Chad Trovinger, Graphic Artist

Merging from southbound Interstate 81 to westbound Interstate 70 will soon become easier and safer because of a state plan to extend an acceleration lane at that interchange, officials said Tuesday.

Construction on the roughly $6 million state project is expected to begin in late June or early July, Maryland State Highway Administration spokeswoman Lora Rakowski said.

It will include extending the acceleration lane and widening two bridges to accommodate the extended lane.

The project was discussed at a Washington County Commissioners meeting Tuesday because the SHA needed county approval to conduct some work on Hopewell Road, a county road that runs under I-70 near the interchange, as part of the project.

The Washington County Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve a memorandum of understanding granting the SHA that permission. Commissioner John F. Barr was absent.

The entire project — including the work on Hopewell Road and traffic control during that work — will be performed by the state at its expense, Washington County Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth III said.

Currently, when vehicles reach the end of the ramp to westbound I-70, there is no acceleration lane to use as a merge area, Kroboth said.

To build an extended acceleration lane, the state will need to widen the bridge over Hopewell Road as well as a bridge over some railroad tracks, he said.

The Hopewell Road bridge is about 1,000 feet from the end of the ramp, and the railroad bridge is about 500 feet beyond that.

In addition to widening the Hopewell Road bridge, the state will also have to lower the surface of Hopewell Road to allow the required amount of clearance under the bridge, Kroboth said.

The highway surface is crowned, or higher in the center, for water runoff, so widening the bridge will also lower its clearance, he said.

"To provide that clearance, they actually have to dig up a couple hundred feet of pavement, lower the road, and then fill the road back in," he said.

The project is currently in the competitive bidding process, Rakowski said. Exact construction costs and start dates will not be known until the contract is awarded, she said.

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