De­lays ex­pected as 404 widen­ing con­tin­ues

Times-Record - - News - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

— 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.

SHA PHO­TOS

Work­ers on state Route 404 pour the deck of the bridge over Nor­wich Creek at dawn with west­bound traf­fic.

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