Delays expected as 404 widening continues
— Progress can be a tricky thing — to go forward it is often necessary to forge new roads, which has certainly been the case in the process of creating a dual highway between U.S. Route 50 and the Maryland/Delaware line.
It has been the summer of slowdowns on state Route 404, but the good news, according to State Highway Administration spokesman Robert Rager, is construction is on schedule.
The timeline set forth by Gov. Larry Hogan for SHA to have four lanes open to traffic — two west bound and two east bound — by the end of November 2017 is approaching quickly. Rager said a mild winter and fair days this spring have definitely worked in their favor.
This incredible project encompasses a total of 11 miles through Caroline, Talbot, and Queen Anne’s counties. Presently nine of those 11 miles are under construction, said Rager.
Segment C, which is the east end of the project closest to Denton is getting close to having what will be the new, west bound lanes paved. Crews have been compacting the soil in preparation for the first base layer of pavement, and travelers may begin to see paving operations near MD 312 and Downes Station Road.
Segment A, near U.S. Route 50, may see a partial shift of traffic to the newly completed section of highway sometime in mid-July, said Rager. Also on the west end of the project, the bridge over Norwich Creek continues to be constructed. This is a similar operation to the first bridge completed over Tuckahoe Creek, east of MD 309. At Norwich Creek, which is about a mile west of 309, there is an existing bridge that carries two-way traffic — SHA operations are constructing a new bridge alongside the existing one to accommodate the dual highway that will have two lanes in each direction.
Last week, the bridge deck over Norwich Creek was poured in concrete, and construction continues to complete that phase of the project. Rager cautioned that numerous construction vehicles are entering and exiting the highway from construction zones and motorists should continue to exercise caution.
The first segment completed, between the area of MD 309 and MD 480 is open as a divided highway. It is the only section of the highway that is open as a dual highway where it is okay for motorists to pass and drive 55 mph, Rager said.
Flagging operations will continue Monday through Friday, with the exception of July 3-5, Rager said. Flagging operations have been running only during the day leaving easier travel times after 7 p.m. and before 7 a.m. for those who wish to avoid lane closures, however this is subject to change as the project nears completion. Contractors for SHA have permission to conduct flagging operations throughout the night if need be to remain on schedule.
Preparing yourself to be patient while the flagging operations take place and adding extra travel time is likely the best solution if you must travel MD 404, but SHA is encouraging drivers to seek alternate routes, Rager said.
From U.S. Route 50 to Holly Road there are currently two to three flagging operations set up daily. Heavier traffic volumes from summer travelers are anticipated to add significantly to delays.
Flaggers are in constant communication with each other and the construction workers to move traffic as expediently and safely as possible, said Rager. They must factor in the length of backups in either direction, vehicles entering and exiting the highway, and emergency response vehicles needing access.
According to AAA, a record number of travelers are expected to be on the road over the 4th of July holiday.
Workers on state Route 404 pour the deck of the bridge over Norwich Creek at dawn with westbound traffic.