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MD Vacationers Delight in $87M U.S. 50 Project

Tue August 27, 2002 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

Vacations at Maryland beaches should involve less hassle starting next summer, due to a 4.75-mi. (7.64 km) four-lane highway currently under construction around the city of Salisbury. Designed by the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA), the $87-million project started in May 2000 and is expected to be completed and open to traffic by April 15, 2003.

The project involves U.S. 50, which is a major east-west route that also functions as one of the city’s main streets. According to the SHA, the U.S. 50 Salisbury Bypass was designed to “allow motorists to travel smoothly around the community of Salisbury on their way to and from beach resorts and other destinations served by U.S. 50.”

In addition, the bypass will reduce traffic problems for local residents. Currently, traveling through Salisbury involves 16 traffic signals. Once the bypass is completed, motorists will pass through two signals.

Maryland Governor Parris Glendening said, “This is not just about reaching the beach, but about giving Main Street back to the community.”

In 1999, the average daily traffic count for U.S. 50 entering Salisbury was 28,550 vehicles per day. SHA projections show that traffic will double by the year 2020 without the bypass. The SHA Office of Traffic and Safety estimates that between 46 and 48 percent of the current traffic on U.S. 50 in Salisbury will use the new bypass when it opens.

In addition to high-traffic projections, the accident rate on the existing U.S. 50 has been higher than the statewide average since 1983. According to the SHA, this results from slower moving traffic making frequent turning movements and mixing with higher speed through traffic.

Planning for the bypass originally began in the 1980s, but was delayed by a federal civil suit initiated on behalf of the Jersey Heights Community Association. An out-of-court settlement was reached in March 2000, with the Jersey Heights Community Association negotiating benefits, such as a large earth berm and privacy screen along the bypass near the community.

The four-lane limited access highway will connect U.S. 50 west of Salisbury with the existing U.S. 13 bypass just east of Business U.S. 13. The SHA reported that the project includes construction of seven bridges, several ramps, and an earth berm with an 8-ft. (24 m) wood-look concrete visual screen. In addition, large mitigation and sediment control ponds will minimize the impact of the highway on environmentally-sensitive areas.

The highway also will intersect Salisbury’s Northwood Industrial Park. The design includes ramps to improve access to U.S. 50 for the shipping and receiving of products and materials for companies in this complex.

The $87 million total cost of the project consists of three categories: design, $10 million; right-of-way, $12 million; and construction, $65 million.

The construction project includes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorized impacts to approximately 4.41 acres (1.78 ha) of non-tidal wetlands, Maryland Department of the Environment authorized impacts to approximately 5.31 acres (2.15 ha) of non-tidal wetlands and 4.60 acres (1.86 ha) of regulated non-tidal wetland buffer. The environmental permits stipulate that special construction practices and minimization measures be taken when working in or near critical natural resources areas, such as wetlands, streams and aquifer boundaries.

The SHA reported that the overall project is on schedule. Although a wet spring in 2001 put earthmoving behind schedule going into the summer, unusually dry weather throughout the summer and fall allowed crews to compensate and move slightly ahead of schedule as the project reached the midway point.

Upon completion, the bypass will include 170,000 sq. yds. (142,141 sq m) of primary 10 in. (25.4 cm) thick pavement, 59,000 epoxy-coated dowel bards, 30,000 straight and bent tie bars, 47,000 cu. yds. (35,934 cu m) of concrete, 48,000 tons of stone, 32,000 tons (28,800 t) of sand, and 16,400 tons (14,760 t) of cement. Grading will involve 83,000 cu. yds. (63,459 cu m) of general excavation and 1.1 million cu. yds. (841,017 cu m) of borrow excavation.

The project has been divided into four phases:

• Phase 1 covers 2.15 mi. (3.5 km) from west of White Lowe Road to east of West Road, with an overall cost of $18.9 million. This phase involves relocation of U.S. 50, construction of a full diamond interchange, a fly-over ramp for existing westbound U.S. 50 traffic, a service road, construction of two bridges, and construction of a wetland mitigation site.

• Phase 2 covers 1.23 mi. (1.9 km) from east of West Road to east of Scenic Drive, with an overall cost of $14.2 million. This phase involves a bridge on Jersey Road over the overpass and bridges over Johnson pond and construction of a 10-ft. (3 m) earth berm.

• Phase 3 covers 1.37 mi. (2.2 km) from east of Scenic Drive to U.S. 13, with an overall cost of $29.7 million. This project entails bridges over Goddard parkway, Armstrong parkway and the Norfolk-Southern railroad tracks, a bridge over Northwood Drive, a bridge over the ramp from southbound U.S. 13 to southbound U.S. 13 Salisbury bypass, a bridge over U.S. 13 Business, and a new ramp.

• Phase 4 includes changes in traffic patterns and improvements to the existing U.S. 50/U.S. 13 interchange east of Salisbury, with an overall cost of $5.4 million.

The prime contractor for Phase 1 is Bramble Construction Co., Chestertown, MD. For Phase 2, Bramble is working in partnership with G.A. & F.C. Wagman Inc., York, PA. According to David C. Bramble, president of Bramble Construction, clean up and paving are all that remains to be done on these two phases.

The supervisor for both phases simultaneously is Bobby Bramble. At the peak, there were 50 employees working on the project. The equipment list includes six 835 Volvo off-highway trucks, two Challenge tractors with scrapers, a 245 ID 450 excavator, and an American 165-ton (148.5 t) crawler crane. Subcontractor High Steel, Lancaster, PA, also used its P & H 140-ton (126 t) crane for some of the erection work.

Subcontractors include I.A. Construction, Delmar, PA, paving; L.S. Lee, York, PA, guardrail and signs; F.J. Mallar, Snow Hill, MD, seeding and mulching; J.H. Burton, landscaping; Best Fence, Annapolis, MD, fencing; and John Tieder, Cambridge, MD, electric.

For Phases 3 and 4, the prime contractor is Cherry Hill Construction Co., Jessup, MD. According to Project Leader Paul Siebert, as of May 28, Phase 3 is approximately 66 percent complete, and Phase 4 is substantially complete.

Siebert noted that timing and construction deadlines are a challenge for this project. Although completion is not required until June of 2003, Cherry Hill is aiming for an incentive date of Oct. 15, 2002.

Moving material also proves challenging. According to Siebert, 1 million cu. yds. (764,561 cu m) of borrow must be moved using a 36-in. (91.4 cm)-wide belt conveyor 2 mi. (3.2 km) in length. Once the borrow reaches central receiving, it is then trucked an additional 1,800 ft. (548.6 m).

Cherry Hill’s equipment list includes four to six 40-ton (36 t) Caterpillar articulated haul units, 25 rented on-road triaxle trucks for hauling, three D8 Caterpillars, two D6 Caterpillars, several loaders, a belt unloader/stacker, two 815 Caterpillar compactors, a 16G motorgrader, a 14G motorgrader with ATS, two 84-in. (213.4 cm) vibratory compactors, a Gomaco shoulder paver, and an MTP 400 material placer/concrete rehandler. Cherry Hill also uses a complete CMI 10-cu.-yd. (7.64 cu m) central mix portable batch plant system that feeds a CMI SF450B paver.

Including subcontractors, an average of 60 employees are working on the site each day. Major subcontractors for the project include George & Lynch, New Castle, DE, bridge contractors; I.A. Construction, Delmar, MD, asphalt pavers; Pessoa Construction Company, Fairmont Heights, MD, concrete work, ditch and guttering, cast and place walls; and Collinson Inc., PA, signage.

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