Highway projects along 304, 404 on schedule
CENTREVILLE — A guided tour at the end of 2016 through the work zones on both MD 304 in Centreville and the 404 corridor proved construction is moving along ahead of a very tight schedule.
Bob Rager, the Maryland State Highway Administration district community liaison, offered his insight into both of the large projects which many Mid-Shore commuters are likely to encounter in their travels.
Both are very big, visible projects, said Rager. They are hopeful for later in January to do a major traffic shift on 404 and in February to begin setting the 304 overpass beams across 301, assuming reasonably good weather, he added.
The new overpass will be the first phase of the 304 project open — to continue the flow of traffic from Ruthsburg Road east to west — while completing the construction project. Tentatively, Rager expects the onramp from Route 304, Ruthsburg Road east, onto 301 south to be open this spring. That ramp is complete, but needs an additional surface course (pavement) to be drivable
by motorists, said Rager. The new park and ride on the west side of 304 is also nearing completion.
One of the recurring themes of any construction project carried through the winter is temperature, Rager explained. Temperatures below freezing and extreme fluctuating temperatures can prohibit work such as paving.
What motorists can expect to see in the very near future is the steel for the Rt. 304 overpass over Rt. 301 being set in place. Piles have already been driven in place on the west side of 304, and sometime mid-February, Rager expects intermittent overnight closures of 301 as the steel is set in place overhead. The steel will link the east and west sides of 304 over 301. These closures are expected to occur over a two-week period.
The 404 shift will be in the area west of Fox Meadow and Church Lane. This is Segment A of the overall project. [Note, Segment A is typically referred to as the portion of highway from Rt. 50 to 404 at Starr Road. Segment B, the next easterly section, including the Tuckahoe Bridge; and Segment C, the last connecting section to the dual portion of 404 in Denton.]
The contractor, said Rager, has been working whenever temperatures allow — 32 degrees and rising — to pave the new westbound lanes in Segment A with base asphalt. If all goes well the new lanes would temporarily carry bidirectional traffic — one lane each direction, much like the existing configuration, removing the flow of traffic from the existing (original) 404 roadway and allowing crews to push ahead through the winter with drainage pipes and culverts under the old alignment.
Eventually, explained Rager, the old 404 alignment will become the “new” eastbound lanes. His hope is that the temporar y traffic shift will not only expedite the pace of work, but, “Assuming decent weather, it will provide a huge safety benefit for motorists and workers alike. It’s always a plus when we can separate a work zone from traffic.”
The next major project for 404 is the bridge over Norwich Creek, also in Segment A. This will be similar in nature to the bridge over Tuckahoe Creek that was recently opened. However, because of the nature and timeline of the project, work in all three segments is occurring simultaneously, Rager said.
The 404 widening falls under the 404 Corridor Safety Constructors Joint Venture, a joint venture comprised of David A. Bramble Inc. from Chestertown, Wagman Heavy Civil from York, Pa., and Allan Myers from Elk Mills. Together, the three groups are working on all of the segments concurrently.
For travelers, this means to expect more than one closure along the 404 corridor at any given time, Rager said.
“This is Gov. (Larry) Hogan’s top priority of 2015 for transportation, a $160 million project,” said Rager, “and our task is to finish dualizing the highway from Route 50 all the way up to Denton, about 9.2 miles, by November 2017.”
The project is an ambitious one, said Rager and has required constant site evaluations and change in design along the way.
Crews will be working through the winter as weather permits and occasionally overnight. Temperatures will play a part in dictating when paving happens, but ultimately SHA has two primary concerns, the safety of their workers and the safety of those traveling the road, Rager said..
Reduced speed areas are clearly marked along 304 and 404, and flaggers will continue to be present during the construction process. In addition, electrical crews and heavy equipment is entering on and off the highway, Rager noted.
To further enhance the safety of all involved the Maryland State Police are monitoring speed and driving throughout.
The latest planned lane closures are updated at www.md404project.com. Travelers can also view live feed from SHA traffic cameras online www.chart. maryland.gov/trafficcameras/ index.php#.
Construction on the east side of the Ruthsburg Road overpass.
Crews set the steel beams for the overpass retaining wall in place, positioning them vertically.
Workers prepare to hoist steel beams.