The Maryland State Highway Administration will widen and rehabilitate the Interstate 70 bridge over Conococheague Creek west of Hagerstown as part of its bridge preservation and replacement program.
During two years of construction, the SHA plans to widen both sides of the bridge by 20 feet, allowing room for drivers to pull over and possibly facilitating the addition of a third lane.
The $16.5 million project will extend the life of the bridge by 30 to 50 years, according to a press release from the SHA. Although the bridge is safe for public travel, it is beginning to show signs of deterioration, the SHA said.
“This major east-west route is a vital part of our nation’s interstate highway system and a critical link for the Hagerstown area,” SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters said in the release. “By rehabilitating and widening the bridge over Conococheague Creek now, SHA will ensure the highway remains safe and well-maintained for years to come.”
Construction crews will work below the bridge for the first few months, but all lanes will remain open throughout the duration of the project, except for a few temporary single-lane closures, the SHA said.
In late summer, crews will close the highway shoulder and shift or narrow lanes. Traffic will later move to new bridge sections while the existing sections are renovated, according to the SHA.
The restoration of the dual bridge, which was constructed in 1965 and carries an average volume of 56,000 vehicles per day, likely will be completed by fall 2014, the SHA said.
Crews will replace the structural steel and deck of the bridge, and will widen the support piers so each side of the bridge is 51 feet wide.
In late summer, the SHA will reduce the speed limit on I-70 in the work zone to 55 mph and will begin using Maryland SafeZones automated speed enforcement. For the first three weeks, violators caught by speed camera will be mailed warnings, but after that, if a vehicle is recorded speeding by 12 mph or more over the 55 mph speed limit, the registered owner will be mailed a $40 citation.