Completion of work on Poffenberger Road delayed by utility line removal

December 10, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Roadwork on Poffenberger Road, east of Funsktown, continues on Monday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Signs are still in place on Garis Shop Road and Wagaman Road informing motorists that Poffenberger Road would close to through traffic Sept. 4 between Garis Shop Road and Sharpsburg Pike (Md. 65) for about 60 days. Ninety-nine days later, the road is still closed at Garis Shop Road.

“They should’ve been finished with this,” said Brenda McCray, who lives on Garis Shop Road. “I don’t know what the problem is, but nothing is getting done. The traffic comes up and down this road really fast now.”

Stephan Gibbs, 24, who drives McCray to the doctor Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, said that he hopes the work is finished soon because turning from Poffenberger Road onto U.S. 40 Alternate can be dangerous.

“It’s such a risk to get out,” he said. “They need to finish it because you can’t see over the hill and people speed by.”

The road was closed so work crews could move the intersection of U.S. 40 Alternate and Poffenberger Road about 250 feet west and install a roundabout at the intersection of Poffenberger Road and Garis Shop Road. But the work could not be completed until utility companies moved several utility lines in the area, Heather Keels, District 6 and 7 community liaison for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said in an email.

“SHA has built as much of the roundabout and realigned road as we could, but in some places the old utility poles are in the path of the new road,” Keels said in the email. “The utility companies are almost finished with their work — we are waiting for one more utility pole to be moved.”

Michael “Denny” Martin, who lives on Poffenberger Road at the intersection with Garis Shop Road, said motorists unaware of the closure have driven onto his property when turning around.

“People drive right through the yard and have knocked over buckets in front of my driveway, and day and night my dog goes nuts when somebody pulls in the driveway,” Martin, 67, said. “The signs were not placed right. People don’t understand that the road is closed.”

Between Sharpsburg Pike and Garis Shop Road, one sign is up on Poffenberger Road about a mile west of the closure, warning that it is only accessible to local traffic. The next sign warning that the road is closed is placed in Martin’s yard in front of the work and has been knocked over before, Martin said. There are no street lights in the area.

Martin said, however, he supports the work that is being done and understands that it is necessary.

“My daughter has been in a wreck up here, and anyone in my family could be in a wreck on (Alternate U.S.) 40,” he said. “This is the smartest thing that anybody’s ever done in this county right there.”

Jim Fegan, 75, who lives next door to Martin on Poffenberger Road, said he does not have a problem with the work going on. “I have to go two miles out of my way to get to Funkstown, but I don’t worry about it,” he said.

The road is expected to open by the end of the year, weather permitting and if the utility companies are “timely” with their work, Keels’ email said.

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