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County:Washington Project Number:WA344_52
IS 0081 MARYLAND VETERANS MEMORIAL HIGHWAY IHB - SOUTH OF US 11 IN WEST VIRGINIA TO NORTH OF MD 63/68

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: 

1. When will the project begin? When will the project end?

A: 

The project is scheduled to begin October 2016 and is expected to be complete summer 2020.

Q: 

2. What is the cost of the project?

A: 

The project is expected to cost $105.47 million Design: $5 million Construction: $100.47 million (MDOT will contribute $60.72 million and WVADOT will contribute $39.75 million)

Q: 

3. Why is the bridge being replaced and widened?

A: 

While the I-81 Bridge is structurally safe, it has outlived its useful life and will be replaced. The steel girder bridge was originally constructed in 1965. The current average daily traffic count is 63,400 vehicles. In 2035, the expected average daily traffic is expected to surpass 91,000 vehicles. A third lane on each bridge span will assist with the increase in expected capacity.

Q: 

4. Where will the new lanes be placed?

A: 

The new travel lane in each direction will go on the inside between the existing structures.

Q: 

5. How will traffic be impacted?

A: 

Initially, all work will be done under the Potomac River Bridge so there will not be a traffic impact. Once crews begin work on both bridge decks (riding surfaces) and the road widening, traffic will be shifted to maintain two permanent travel lanes in each direction throughout construction. Intermittent, nighttime, single lane closures will be needed. The public will be advised in advance of the traffic shifts and the temporary, nighttime, single lane closures.

Q: 

6. How can you build the bridges and keep 2 permanent travel lanes open?

A: 

Widening to the inside will be constructed first in Stage 1. This widening consists of what will be the new lane and a new full shoulder. This section is wide enough for 2 lanes to be shifted onto the new portion of the bridges, while the existing bridge decks and steel are reconstructed in Stage 2.

Q: 

7. What time of day will construction typically occur?

A: 

Construction will occur at all hours of the day. However, temporary single lane closures that would impact traffic on I-81 will only occur between the hours of 9PM – 5AM.

Q: 

8. What side will work begin on?

A: 

Crews are currently projected to begin major work on the West Virginia side of the bridge and move towards Maryland.

Q: 

9. Will the C&O Canal be impacted?

A: 

The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration has worked closely with the National Park Service’s C&O Canal staff to ensure that there is limited disturbance to the canal. A 3-sided structure will be built to protect those on the towpath from any potential overhead hazards. During major operations (setting steel beams as an example), flaggers will be positioned on each side of the towpath to temporarily hold bicycle and pedestrian traffic until it is safe to cross.

Q: 

10. Will the river be closed to boating during construction?

A: 

The river will not be closed. However, the temporary access “floating bridge” will take up a portion of the width of the river and any boats or rafts would have to navigate around this structure.

Q: 

11. What about oversized loads on I-81?

A: 

Width will be the biggest concern as lanes will be narrowed during construction. Both states will have to work closely with hauling and transport companies to schedule moves of oversized loads.

Q: 

12. What if a vehicle breaks down or has an accident in the long project work zone?

A: 

The project includes provisions for a tow truck to be onsite 24/7 and be able to immediately respond to incidents. There are also requirements for limited emergency pull-offs in the work zone.

Q: 

13. What else is included in the I-81 bridge project?

A: 

The project includes the I-81 over the Potomac bridge rehabilitation/widening, I-81 over the MD 63 – MD 68 bridge rehabilitation/widening at Exit 1, I-81 widening to a point just north of Exit 1 in MD, and widening south into WV to tie into WV’s 3 lane section at Exit 23 (this portion is paid for by WV).

Q: 

14. Will the widening go north to I-70?

A: 

The I-81 widening will not extend north to I-70 with this phase. Maryland is considering this “Phase 1” of I-81 widening that stops just north of the Exit 1 northbound on-ramp and also just north of the southbound off-ramp. “Phase 2,” which goes further north to I-70, has been funded for $5M in design.

Q: 

15. Exactly how far north does this “Phase 1” project go then?

A: 

Going northbound, the 3rd lane will drop at the Exit 1 off-ramp. (The widening will continue over the MD 63/68 bridge just north of the Exit 1 on-ramp, but the official striped 3rd lane will become the Exit 1 off-ramp.) Going southbound, the 3rd lane will start just north of the Exit 1 off-ramp. At the off ramp location, there will be 4 lanes (3 thru lanes and the off-ramp lane) as well as standard shoulders.

Q: 

16. Will Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) be used on this project?

A: 

ASE will be used in Maryland, but not on the West Virginia side of the bridge. ASE is vital to slow traffic down through work zones to protect workers and motorists alike. For more information about Maryland’s ASE Program, please see http://www.roads.maryland.gov/pages/faqs.aspx?CatId=0&QId=8


 
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