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.”

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