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Crews Replace Defunct Motter Avenue Bridge

An aging bridge constructed in 1957 triggers a $15.2 million project.

Wed September 11, 2013 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is spearheading a $15.2 million project to replace the Motter Avenue Bridge in Frederick, Md.

According to the project Web site, the Motter Avenue Bridge was originally constructed in 1957. While still structurally safe, the concrete deck has deteriorated to the point where it requires replacement. Additionally, the bridge is classified as functionally obsolete due to its lack of shoulders and high volume of traffic. As a result of this functional obsolescence, and proposed future widening along U.S 15. under the bridge, the decision was made to completely replace the bridge.

The replacement bridge will be constructed wide enough to accommodate the current four lanes of through traffic. In addition, it will include a continuous left turn lane to accommodate vehicles turning from Motter Avenue onto the entrance ramps to U.S. 15, and a dedicated lane for traffic entering Motter Avenue from U.S. 15 northbound and proceeding north in the direction of Fort Detrick. Pedestrian sidewalks also will be included in both directions across the new Motter Avenue Bridge. The acceleration and deceleration lanes on U.S. 15 will be lengthened and the new bridge will be long enough to accommodate proposed future widening of U.S. 15.

The construction bid amount was $12.27 million, but the total project cost, including design, right-of-way, and construction, is approximately $15.2 million. Work began in the spring of 2012, and will be complete by the fall of 2014, weather permitting.

The project is a partnership between SHA and the city of Frederick, with a contribution from Frederick County, as well. Federal funds are included in SHA’s portion.

For the total $15.2 million project cost, the breakdown is as follows: $12 million state/federal, $2.17 million city of Frederick and $0.5 million Frederick County.

The contract was awarded to Kibler Construction Company of Finksburg, Md., with Dave Shower serving as superintendent. SHA’s project engineer of construction is David James.

The project entails replacing the Motter Avenue Bridge over U.S. 15, widening Motter Avenue/Opossumtown Pike from four lanes to six lanes from U.S. 15 to Thomas Johnson Drive, and upgrading sidewalks and traffic signals for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance throughout the project area. The sidewalk improvements will extend from Thomas Johnson Drive to the entrance of Governor Thomas Johnson High School.

Other scheduled work includes adding an additional lane on Thomas Johnson Drive approaching the Opossumtown Pike intersection from each direction and adding/extending the concrete median barriers on Thomas Johnson Drive approaching the intersection, lengthening the deceleration lanes on U.S. 15 at the Motter Avenue exit by about 400 ft. (122 m) and modifying the ramp from northbound U.S. 15 to Motter Avenue for improved traffic flow, relocating a city of Frederick water line from the existing bridge to the new bridge, constructing storm water management facilities at the U.S. 15/Motter Avenue interchange and making additional changes to accommodate the widened road, such as relocating lighting fixtures and constructing retaining walls.

According to Heather Keels, District 6 and 7 community liaison of the office of customer relations and information of the SHA, the project has run into a few minor delays due to utility issues, but is close to being on schedule.

“One unique aspect of this project is that it is a partnership between SHA and the city of Frederick,” Keels said. “To minimize the impact to area motorists, residents and businesses, the city and SHA have agreed to combine a state bridge project with planned improvements to the city-owned Motter Avenue/Opossumtown Pike and Thomas Johnson Drive. SHA will manage the project, but the city will fund its portion of the project. The city’s contribution is estimated at $3.2 million.”

She noted that another challenge for the project was that the bridge is used heavily by pedestrians, including students at the nearby Governor Thomas Johnson High School, Heather Ridge School, North Frederick Elementary School and Frederick Community College.

“It is also near a busy commercial shopping center and many medical offices on nearby Thomas Johnson Drive,” she said. “As a result, pedestrian safety was given a lot of attention both in the design for the widened bridge and in providing a safe place for pedestrians to walk during the project. Before beginning work on the bridge, the contractor installed a temporary pedestrian bridge over U.S. 15 and built a temporary walkway leading to the pedestrian bridge on each side. The pre-fabricated bridge is owned by the contractor. It is 10 feet wide and is open to bicyclists, though bicyclists should dismount and walk their bikes across the bridge.”

To date, the contractor has excavated nearly 5,700 cu. yd. (4,358 cu m), hauled in 12,500 cu. yd. (9,557 cu m) of borrow (fill material) and used 1,612 cu. yd. (1,232 cu m) of concrete.

Major subcontractors are Concrete Technology Services Inc. for saw cutting the existing bridge, D & D Drilling Inc. for boring utilities under Motter Avenue, Long Fence Co. for installing fencing along the right of way at the American Legion, AJO Concrete Construction Inc. for concrete curb and sidewalk, Carroll Striping Co. for temporary line markings, Genesis Steel Services Inc. for setting the pedestrian bridge and installing steel girders on new bridge, P & S Painting Co. for permanent line markings, Snyder Environmental Services Inc. for boring storm drain pipe under U.S 15. and Motter Avenue.

Sunrise Safety Services was used to set safety barriers and crash cushions on the project, Hagan & Sons Clearing and Excavating Inc. for clearing existing trees from the site, E & F Landscaping for temporary seeding, permanent seeding, matting, and tree and shrub planting, C. J. Miller for placing hot mix asphalt, and Atlantic Traffic Safety Inc. to install temporary traffic construction signs.

The equipment list includes dump trucks, a mini-roller, an auger truck, an excavator, a backhoe, a flat bed truck, skids steers and more from Caterpillar, John Deere, Kubota, American and Ditch Witch.

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