CENTREVILLE — Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration District Community Liaison Bob Rager said “the worst is behind us” regarding construction of State Route 213 bridge above Old Mill Stream Branch, which underwent a full replacement the weekend of Oct. 18-20.
The entire project, which involves construction on two bridges along MD 213 — Old Mill Stream Branch and Gravel Run Bridge — began in July, and is on track to be completed Dec. 31.
Rager said many area residents showed an interest in watching the placement of the new Old Mill Stream Branch Bridge, but he told people it wouldn’t be safe, and it probably wouldn’t be as fun to watch as it sounded.
The entire process took eight hours, beginning at 4 p.m. and ending around midnight, with the bridge moving only a couple inches at a time on hydraulic-powered steel rollers.
“We made it clear that they weren’t going to see a bridge just slide into place in a few minutes and it was going to be a really long process,” Rager said. “So I think that turned a lot of people off.”
The Old Mill Stream Branch Bridge was reopened as of Monday, Oct. 21, but there is still a good amount of work that needs to be done, including pavement, end posts, lighting, permanent guard rail placement and job site cleanup.
Rager said residents can expect two more weekends of full closures along the route before the end of the year — one at the Gravel Run Bridge and another over Old Mill Stream Branch. The closure dates are to be determined.
While weather and flooding have been factors in dictating whether the project stays on schedule, Rager said they’re still in “pretty good shape” to be out of there by the end of 2019.
Rager said the work was necessary because the bridges had reached the end of their service life and needed to be replaced.
“I think these go back to the 1930s probably, so they’ve been there a long time,” he said. “With any bridge in our system, you get to a point where it just costs too much to maintain, and it’s not worth the maintenance. You need to replace it, and we hit that with these two.”
Rager said both the bridges were “poorly rated,” but they never were unsafe for traffic, because “we would never allow traffic over a bridge that was unsafe.”
Although, he said, the new bridges did bring safer pedestrian walkways, because both are now wider and have sidewalks.
“That’s gonna be a good thing,” Rager said.