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$65M Road Reconstruction Project Under Way in Maryland

Mon April 30, 2018 - Northeast Edition #9
Brenda Ruggiero – CEG Correspondent

An excavator is in use at the MD 85/I-270 project.
(MDOT SHA photo)
An excavator is in use at the MD 85/I-270 project. (MDOT SHA photo)
An excavator is in use at the MD 85/I-270 project.
(MDOT SHA photo) A trench box is used for worker safety for pipe work.
(MDOT SHA photo) Machines moving heavy drainage pipe.
(MDOT SHA photo) Crews excavate in a trench box for pipe drainage work.
(MDOT SHA photo) Crews excavate a trench for storm water management pipes.
(MDOT SHA photo) Crews excavate adjacent to MD 85 as part of MD 85/I-270 project.
(MDOT SHA photo)

A $65.5 million reconstruction project currently moving forward in Frederick County, Md., involves improvements to the I-270/MD 85 (Buckeystown Pike) interchange. The work was made possible by the current administration of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Funding for this project was added in June 2015 and was a part of a $1.97 billion contribution by Hogan to invest in Maryland's roads and bridges.

Hogan noted that his administration is committed to addressing severe road congestion. He has announced projects totaling $9 billion, including the addition of lanes to I-270, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Interstate 495 around Washington, D.C.

The reconstruction work at the Frederick Interchange is under the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA), and Mark Allen serves as the project manager for the administration. One of the goals is to relieve traffic congestion by adding an additional lane in each direction on MD 85. It also will accommodate the future widening of I-270.

The contract was awarded to Joseph B. Fay Company of Glen Burnie, Md. Work began in the fall of 2017, and at this time, project completion is planned for early 2021. The project will reportedly be built in phases.

The first phase involves the improvements on I-270, including two bridges over MD 85. Constructed in 1950, they reportedly carry 115,000 vehicles each day. They are deemed safe, but are in need of replacement because of age. The bridges are included on the list of a total of 69 structurally deficient bridges identified by Hogan in 2015. So far, 41 have been rehabilitated or replaced and are no longer listed as structurally deficient. It has been reported that the remaining 28 are in various stages of design to move them into construction or repair.

The Frederick County project includes the construction of MD 85 (Buckeystown Pike) from south of the MDOT SHA District 7 entrance to north of Spectrum Drive, which is a distance of approximately 1.1 mi., as well as the construction of I-270 from 2,700 ft. south of MD 85 to 3,400 ft. south of I-70, which is a distance of approximately 1.3 mi.

According to Charlie Gischlar, media relations manager of MDOT SHA, the roadwork will include widening along MD 85 and the construction of a new median along MD 85.

In addition, the two bridges over MD 85 will be removed and replaced with a three-span structure.

Other work in the contract includes maintenance of traffic, construction of an ADA-compliant sidewalk and ramp reconstruction, resurfacing of MD 85, signing, and marking installation.

Finally, storm water management facilities will be installed along MD 85, construction of bio-swales, drainage improvements, and erosion and sediment control will be completed and traffic signals and lighting work will be completed.

Landscape improvements, turf grass, turf grass sod establishment and tree planting will complete the work.

"Maintenance of traffic is always a challenge," Gischlar said of this project. "The goal is to safely get traffic and pedestrians safely through the work zone, while maintaining safety for crews."

Another challenge noted by Gischlar has to do with geology, specifically the geology of Frederick County.

"Frederick County is built largely on karst, or large limestone deposits," he said. "Limestone is a key mineral that causes sinkholes. To counter the geology, MDOT SHA will drive 'micro piles' that will penetrate through the limestone karst and into strong bedrock [for bridge construction]. Micro piles are basically screwed into the ground rather than pounded into the ground. The piles are metal tubes. After the micro pile is inserted into the bedrock, concrete grout is pumped into it, which stiffens the pile."

According to Gischlar, equipment to be used on the job includes graders, dozers, excavators, dump trucks, man lifts, cranes, pavers, rollers, concrete trucks, pile drivers, generators, air tools and compressors, lighting towers and GPS tools used to set grades on work areas and also to track the elevation of the equipment and location.

Subcontractors for this project listed by Gischlar include Road Safety LLC, Seed & Site Solutions, Hills & Carnes, Forestry First LLC, Hawkins Erosion Control LLC and WBJ Transportation Inc.

Joseph B. Fay was founded in 1947 and serves as a general contractor and solution provider for the Mid-Atlantic region. The company offers design-build, value engineering and accelerated construction delivery methods, and has received numerous awards.

MD 85 is a state highway that runs 10.80 mi., from MD 28 in Tuscarora north to the Frederick city limit north of I-270. It connects Tuscarora and Buckeystown in southern Frederick County with Frederick, which is the county seat. It is the old alignment of U.S. Route 15, which was constructed in the early 1920s.


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