Construction on first phase of Funkstown bypass delayed until spring of 2012

Roundabout at intersection should resolve sight-distance limitations in the area of Frederick Street

April 07, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |

FUNKSTOWN — Construction on the first phase of the Funkstown bypass is not expected to begin until spring of 2012 at the earliest, a year later than planned, according to Robert Slocum, Washington County's deputy director of public works.

County officials said last September that the project would be delayed because of sight-distance limitations in the area of Frederick Street at the point where the new road would intersect.

The issue will be resolved with a roundabout at the intersection, Slocum said Wednesday.

Project officials are still doing design work, working out permit issues with the Maryland State Highway Administration and need to buy more land for Phase 1, which would connect East Oak Ridge Drive to Frederick Street, he said.

That phase is expected to cost $8.5 million, including land acquisition, design, planning, construction, utilities and inspection, Slocum said. The project previously was budgeted at $8 million, according to Herald-Mail archives.

Washington County Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham asked town officials how the bypass would help the area during a Tuesday night commissioners meeting in Funkstown.

"The easiest way to explain that would be to be here on a Friday night at 5 o'clock," Mayor Paul N. Crampton Jr. responded.

At that time of the evening, traffic is almost at a standstill along Baltimore Street and across a one-lane bridge, Crampton said. The one-lane bridge from East Oak Ridge Drive to Baltimore Street crosses Antietam Creek.

Crampton estimated that about 90 percent of that is drive-through traffic.

The bypass project, also known as Southern Boulevard, would help the town when both phases are complete, Crampton said.

Phase 2 would extend the new road from Frederick Street to Dual Highway. The roundabout would remain after Phase 2 is completed, Slocum said.

Because Frederick Street is a state highway, the county needs an access permit from the SHA for the project, he said.

Access permit work includes doing a study on the historical nature of about 10 properties along Frederick Street for the Maryland Historical Trust, Slocum said. Frederick Street was one of the area's earliest streets, so the agency wants the historical significance of the properties determined, he said.

The biggest challenge now is lowering part of Frederick Street and meeting state and historical trust criteria, Slocum said.

If the properties in the area are found to be of historical significance, project officials will need to return to the trust to discuss what needs to be done, he said.

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