272 work stall draws worry
N.E. mayor: We’ve been put out in the cold
— Despite a nearly three-month-andcounting delay, the State Highway Administration continues to insist that the Route 272 bridge project will be finished on schedule.
At the same time, North East Mayor Robert McKnight said he continues to be stonewalled by SHA when he tries to find out information on the status of the project.
“I’m being told that they can’t talk to me because it’s a legal matter,” he said at the town meeting on Wednesday night. “I insist to them that we have standing in this because it’s our town and we’re partners and he says, ‘Yeah, but it’s a legal matter.’”
Construction work on the Route 272 bridge over Amtrak lines began in January 2015, but came to a halt this past February because of litigation between the contractor, Mumford & Miller Concrete, of Middletown, Del., and the state. A
notice on the SHA website posted on Feb. 16 states that “work may resume in the spring,” but North East town officials say they’ve received no estimate of when construction may restart.
McKnight said he has asked both County Executive Tari Moore and Delegate Kevin Hornberger (R-Cecil) to get involved.
On Thursday afternoon, Hornberger said he had talked to SHA District Engineer Greg Holsey and was told that the contractor and the state are still in talks to resolve some “discrepancies,” though he didn’t have details on what those discrepancies are.
“The lines of communication are still open,” he said.
There is no litigation as of yet, and Hornberger said it was the contractor’s decision, not the state’s, to pull its equipment out of the construction site. The delegate also applauded McKnight’s dedication to advocating for North East and said he would continue to follow up with SHA on the project as well.
The town has dealt with a number of headaches concerning construction of the bridge, which at the main entrance into North East. Though SHA had originally told the town that the bridge would never be completely closed, it ended up shutting down the bridge for about five weeks in March 2015 because the deterioration of the road over the bridge was worse than previously thought.
The current Route 272 bridge was built in 1954 and has 3-footwide sidewalks and no shoulders. The new single-span bridge will include two travel lanes and wider shoulders and sidewalks.
In his talks with the SHA, McKnight said he’s been told that the state still plans to complete the project by the current deadline of fall 2017. But McKnight said he doesn’t see how that’s pos- sible, especially since the contractor has now removed all its equipment from the construction site.
“When I tried to say that we’re spending taxpayer dollars rather loosely and ridiculously, he assured me there would be no cost to this three-month now delay and soon to be longer. Again, which I questioned saying, ‘Time is money’ and he had nothing to say,” McKnight said. “So as equal partners, we have been put out in the cold.”