High­way projects along 304, 404 on sched­ule

Record Observer - - Front Page - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@ches­pub.com

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#.

PHOTO BY HAN­NAH COMBS

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.

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