Ches. City lane clo­sure to be­gin June 6

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JA­COB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— Af­ter sev­eral weeks of de­lays, U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers of­fi­cials an­nounced Tues­day that their Ch­e­sa­peake City Bridge re­paint­ing project will get un­der­way on June 6.

The two-month de­lay from the ini­tial dis­cus­sion of the project to this week’s an­nounce­ment also means that de­lays at the bridge will per­sist all sum­mer long, now last­ing un­til late Oc­to­ber, of­fi­cials re­ported.

The Corps, which main­tains the 68-year-old bridge as the agency re­spon­si­ble for the up­keep and safety of the Ch­e­sa­peake & Delaware Canal, orig­i­nally hoped to start the project in late April. The fed­eral agency ran into traf­fic con­trol is­sues with the Mary­land Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, how­ever, specif­i­cally in re­gards to the move­ment of first re­spon­ders, school buses and farm equip­ment over the length of the project.

On Mon­day night, the Ch­e­sa­peake City Town

CH­E­SA­PEAKE CITY

Coun­cil also re­ported that some of the de­lay was at­trib­ut­able to soil test­ing that some res­i­dents wanted prior to the work be­gin­ning. As crews sand­blast off ex­ist­ing paint, which may still con­tain some lead, res­i­dents who live in the shadow of the nearly 4,000-foot-long span wanted as­sur­ances that their prop­erty would not be con­tam­i­nated. There­fore, the Corps is con­duct­ing soil tests for lead be­fore and af- ter the project is fin­ished.

With ap­provals in hand and prepa­ra­tions draw­ing to a close, Cor­con Inc., an Ohiobased con­struc­tion firm that spe­cial­izes in bridge paint­ing and has com­pleted ma­jor projects like the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadel­phia and the Brook­lyn Bridge in New York City, is set to be­gin the $6.8 mil­lion project.

Crews will work at least five days a week — pos­si­bly six to ex­pe­dite work — on the project. With crews work­ing per­ilously close to traf­fic on the two-lane bridge, it will re­quire a clo­sure of one lane for much of the du­ra­tion of project, cre­at­ing traf­fic de­lays for the 13,500 ve­hi­cles that cross the span daily.

Corps of­fi­cials are work­ing with the Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion to in­stall tem­po­rary traf­fic lights at ei­ther end of the bridge when de­lays be­gin. The lights will be set on a cy­cle of no more than eight min­utes for north­bound and south­bound traf­fic, with the traf­fic lights ca­pa­ble of count­ing the cars pass­ing un­der them and en­sur­ing all pass through the other side be­fore en­abling the re­verse flow, Boyle said.

A third traf­fic sig­nal is also plan­ning on be­ing in­stalled at the north­bound en­trance to Route 213 from the town’s south side, which en­ters traf­fic near the start of the bridge, Boyle said. With­out such a sig­nal, town of­fi­cials were wor­ried that res­i­dents and visi­tors would be blocked by the backup of north­bound traf­fic.

While the Corps will be en­cour­ag­ing driv­ers to con­sider other canal cross­ings, the near­est de­tour back to Route 213 would be nearly 12 miles away us­ing the Sum­mit Bridge, mean­ing lo­cal driv­ers may be bet­ter suited to wait out the de­lay.

The pre­ven­ta­tive project will both beau­tify and pro­tect the bridge, as crews sand­blast off the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing paint from rails and stair­wells along the bridge, re­place the chain link fenc­ing, com­plete nec­es­sary re­pairs and re­paint the af­fected ar­eas. Ar­eas of the bridge to be sand­blasted will be cov­ered in a pro­tec­tive cloth and crews re­mov­ing the paint will be in full pro­tec­tive suits in case some lead-based paint re­mained af­ter the last project, of­fi­cials have said.

CECIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Driv­ers will be forced to deal with de­lays dur­ing the needed Ch­e­sa­peake City bridge re­paint­ing project to start June 6.

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