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$105M I-81 Corridor Widening Begins in Washington County

Wed January 11, 2017 - Northeast Edition #1
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Maryland Veterans Memorial Highway
Maryland Veterans Memorial Highway

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Deputy Transportation Secretary James F. Ports Jr., announced the start of construction to widen I-81 (Maryland Veterans Memorial Highway). The $105 million project is the first phase of improvements to enhance safety and relieve traffic congestion along the heavily traveled corridor. The governor also announced Maryland's application for a federal FASTLANE (Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies) construction grant to help fund the next phase of the project.

Working with the West Virginia Department of Transportation, the Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration (SHA) will widen I-81 between U.S. 11 in West Virginia and MD 63/MD 68 (Lappans Road) in Williamsport, Washington County, and reconstruct the four bridges within the project limits.

“I am pleased to announce that shovels are in the ground and work is under way to widen I-81 between U.S. 11 in West Virginia and MD 63 in Maryland,” said Hogan. “These improvements to I-81 are critical infrastructure investments that will help citizens here in Washington County, across Western Maryland, and all across our state go about their daily lives in a faster, more efficient, and safer manner.”

I-81 is a critical link for West Virginia and Western Maryland and serves a significant freight and commercial corridor. During the last two decades the traffic volume has doubled to 63,400 vehicles a day — with 28 percent truck traffic using the corridor. By 2035, I-81 traffic volumes are projected to increase to 91,850 vehicles.

Once complete in summer 2020, the 5-mi. (8 km) segment of I-81, including the bridges over the Potomac River and at Lappans Road, will have a total of six travel lanes. The project includes reconstructing the I-81 interchange with MD 63/MD 68 to accommodate the new lanes, installing storm water management systems, and upgrading lighting, signs and guardrail to enhance safety along this corridor.

Maryland also is making progress on the next phases of the I-81 corridor. Hogan also allocated $5 million for design and engineering for 2.5 mi. (4 km) of the I-81 corridor between MD 63/MD 68 and I-70. The Maryland Department of Transportation recently submitted a FASTLANE construction grant application for the next phase of I-81 widening to the U.S. Department of Transportation with substantial support from residents, officials, planning organizations and the business community.

SHA also has two additional system preservation projects under way on I-81 to enhance safety. Together, the two projects represent a $10.5 million investment and will be complete summer 2017, weather permitting. Including these, Maryland has $121 million in engineering design and construction projects under way on I-81 in Washington County.

During the I-81 widening, construction will begin underneath the Potomac River bridges with no impacts to traffic. Crews will begin by building new bridge piers in the water to hold the additional travel lane as well as inspecting and repairing the existing piers. The project will start at the base of the bridges near the West Virginia state line. Crews will complete the work in phases to maintain two travel lanes in each direction during construction. The West Virginia Department of Transportation provided $40 million toward the I-81 project, with Maryland contributing $65 million.

SHA's contractor for the bridge replacement is Triton Construction, Inc. of St. Albans, W.Va. CEG

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