County moves for­ward with Me­chan­ics Val­ley bridge project

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JES­SICA IANNETTA jian­netta@ce­cil­

NORTH EAST — The county is mov­ing for­ward with a plan to re­place the bridge on Me­chan­ics Val­ley Road over CSX Rail­road, re­leas­ing ad­di­tional de­tails this week on what im­pact the project would have on the nearby Johnies Ball­field.

While the project is still in the de­sign phase, the Ce­cil County De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works re­leased a pub­lic no­tice Thurs­day say­ing that any im­pacts to the ball­field are ex­pected to be tem­po­rary and would only last through the du­ra­tion of the con­struc­tion. Dur­ing con­struc­tion, which is not set to start un­til late 2019 or early 2020 and is ex­pected to last a year, about 900 square feet of the ball­field would be af­fected and about 100 feet of out­field fenc­ing would need to be re­moved. Af­ter con­struc­tion though, the fence will be re­placed and the ball­field, which is man­aged by the Ce­cil County De­part­ment of Parks and Recre­ation, will be re­stored to its orig­i­nal con­di­tion, ac­cord­ing to the no­tice.

There will be some per­ma­nent im­pacts to the field, but they will all oc­cur out­side of the fenced ball field and won’t af­fect the use of the park, ac­cord­ing to the no­tice.

Given this, DPW is ask­ing the Fed­eral High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion to make a find­ing of “de min­imis,” or mi­nor im­pact, when it comes to ef­fects on the ball­field from the bridge project. John Fabian, project en­gi­neer, said this is a nec­es­sary step be­cause the project is part of the fed­eral bridge re­place­ment pro­gram, which also means that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will pick up 80 per­cent of the es­ti­mated $7.5 mil­lion cost.

“It’s a big project. It’s go­ing to take some time,” he said. “We have to fol­low the fed­eral re­quire­ments be­cause of what’s in­volved.”

While the cur­rent bridge is in de­cent con­di­tion, it has be­come ob­so­lete and isn’t equipped to han­dle the ap­prox­i­mately 5,000 ve­hi­cles that cross the span daily. The new bridge will be much wider than the cur­rent one — with two 12-foot traf­fic lanes and two 7-foot shoul­ders — and the project will also in­volve re­align­ing Me­chan­ics Val­ley and Bouchelle roads.

DPW held a meet­ing to dis­cuss the bridge with the pub­lic back in De­cem­ber 2016 and more than a year later, the project is still in the de­sign phase, with Fabian es­ti­mat­ing that al­most 30 per­cent of the de­sign is com­plete. Af­ter the de­sign is com­plete, there will still be a lot of work to do ob­tain­ing right of ways and mov­ing util­i­ties, he said.

Plus the project still hasn’t been al­lo­cated funds at the fed­eral level, he added, not­ing the project has a long way to go.

As part of re­quest­ing the find­ing of min­i­mal im­pact, DPW must con­fer with the Parks and Rec de­part­ment and is also re­quired to give an op­por­tu­nity for pub­lic com­ment. Any­one wish­ing to com­ment on the project find­ing about min­i­mal im­pact is asked to email Fabian at jfabian@cc­gov. org or send mail to Ce­cil County De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works, Attn: Mr. John Fabian, P.E., 200 Ch­e­sa­peake Blvd., Suite 2400, Elk­ton, MD, 21921.


The county is in the early stages of a project to re­place the Me­chan­ics Val­ley Road bridge over the CSX Rail­road.

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