Work on Westminster's East Main Street to begin

March 21, 1994|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Contributing Writer

Westminster residents, get ready for those signs you dread: "Construction ahead."

Beginning April 11, the East Main Street Reconstruction project will start for a second year as the State Highway Administration begins work on Phase II, Sections G and H, said Ron Ritz, on-site project engineer.

East Main Street from Center Street to Little George's will be closed to vehicular traffic for at least nine weeks. The highway administration had to get permission to extend the closure from Sycamore Street to the convenience store, Mr. Ritz said.

Later, construction will continue down East Main Street to Washington Road and on Washington Road to Quintal Drive. This work will be done in three sections.

"We'll close a whole section and detour traffic down Center Street to Green Street to Washington Road," Mr. Ritz said. "The side streets will remain open and pedestrian traffic will be open. The only thing that will be denied is vehicular traffic on East Main Street."

Businesses that are affected will be notified in advance and advised how to contact the highway administration concerning deliveries and other needs. Signs will inform the public that access is available to

businesses, Mr. Ritz said.

"We contact each business personally to let them know they can make arrangements to get their delivery trucks in and out," Mr. Ritz said. "When they need a truck to get in, they contact us and we make the arrangements."

Robert L. Fisher, assistant district engineer for the highway administration, said one entrance to a business will be left open for patrons' access. When work is finished at the closed entrance, that one will be opened and the other entrance closed for construction.

Mr. Ritz said his agency expects construction on each of the remaining three sections to take four to eight weeks. All the work is to be completed by Oct. 14. Working on longer sections speeds up the work, Mr. Ritz said. Ideally, tackling the entire project at once would be even faster.

"Doing it in sections takes longer because you have to do one thing at a time, then wait for another crew to come in and do their work, and maybe they can't get there when you're ready for them," Mr. Ritz said.

In conjunction with the road construction, Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland

will relocate and upgrade its conduit that runs beneath the street. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which can do some work separately from the highway construction, is installing new poles along Main Street and Washington Road, Mr. Ritz said.

Off Main Street, commuters are being slowed by work on Green and Sycamore streets. On Sycamore, workers are lowering a sewer line, installing a storm drain and adding new sewer structures.

Workers installing a storm drain outfall pipe ran into a problem on Green Street when they realized they did not know the exact location of water and sewer lines.

"We had to redesign the structure and are waiting for new prices from the contractor to finish that," Mr. Ritz said.

Both streets are being kept open, with flaggers controlling traffic. Green Street is expected to be finished by mid-April. The Sycamore Street work is being delayed by a right-of-way request, so the highway administration has no completion date for it, Mr. Ritz said.

Other Main Street work that needs to be completed includes repairing damage from ice and snow that pelted the area for more than

two months, and brick work on crosswalks.

"In the completed sections, brick crosswalks are not finished yet and there will be brick pavers -- you'll know where the designed crosswalks will be. They'll have different paving," said Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster planning and public works director.

Although the city received relatively few complaints from residents last year during construction, Mr. Beyard said officials hope things go more smoothly this time. Signs last time said businesses were accessible but did not give details. He noted the difficulties of businesses in the construction area. Little George's, for instance, expects to lose customers during the project, though it has Main Street and Green Street entrances.

"I'm sure it's going to put a hurt on our business like it did last time," said manager Carol Stansbury. "We're hoping our regular customers will continue to come in, but some may not if they know they have to go out of their way.

"It's only five minutes, but when you're running late, you don't have the time. You're trying to get the kids to school and get to work," she said.

She said construction workers who bought lunch and snacks helped make up for lost business, but she missed her regular clients.

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