CENTREVILLE — Town officials were hopeful the traffic pattern would return to one-way on Liberty, Commerce and Water streets by the end of August, said Councilman Tim McCluskey, however, based on Maryland State Highway’s bridge replacement work at the Gravel Run bridge (in front of Hardee’s and Subway), the town cannot complete the final water and sewer tie in work at the bottom of the hill on North Commerce Street until the bridge work progresses to a point their barricades are removed.
The town now anticipates the return to one-way traffic pattern will occur toward the end of September, and McCluskey said he will continue to provide updates as new information arrives.
The town also issued a public thank you to residents and patrons of the downtown area for their continued patience.
One project off the checklist, the newly widened sidewalks in the downtown area of Commerce Street next to the new courthouse are now complete, with the exception of final landscaping and some electrical modifications, which will come at a later date, said Town Manager Steve Walls.
The final paving to resurface Liberty and Commerce Streets, anticipated this fall, will now occur next spring/summer, said McCluskey. The reason for the delay in resurfacing is because SHA is now required to do an environmental impact study because they will be replacing some curb and gutters.
“The bid package will go out this fall, but the asphalt plants shut down for the winter. We are hopeful that once the plants open up, the state will put the final pavement course on. The traffic pattern will go back to one-way traffic as soon as we can complete our final sewer tie in,” McCluskey wrote.
Residents had expressed their confusion as to why the town had to vote so quickly for the extra (approximately $4 million) that was required to complete this project, as one of the reasons given by council was that the remainder of the work on the water/sewer project must be completed in a timely manner for the state to be able to pave the roads — and that if that timeline was missed the town might miss the opportunity to get those roads repaved.
McCluskey confirmed that the town is still within the original timetable — and not being moved to the bottom of the line for the state’s portion. However, since the state decided to enlarge their original scope of work to include some repair of curbs and sidewalks, they now are required to perform a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) study. This study takes several months to complete and as such, the bid package for the State’s repaving/curb/gutter work won’t be ready until after the asphalt plants are closed, McCluskey said.
In addition, the town had originally been told the repaving would be done regardless of the status of the bridge work. Another reason for the delay, McCluskey said, is that the state decided to delay the entire repaving until work on the bridges at the north and south ends of town is complete. That work, according to the SHA, is slated for completion by the end of 2019, but after the asphalt plants are closed (for the season).
As to the urgency of getting the infrastructure work completed, there are several reasons, McCluskey said, as explained, the town originally expected the state to pave as soon as the town’s portion of the project was complete; the contractor was already mobilized and stopping could cause even greater costs and the unit prices negotiated by the town could have increased; and the traffic plan was already approved by SHA. Putting the project on hold would have necessitated keeping all the traffic on one street or getting approval to bring it back to one way Liberty/Commerce, and then getting approval again from the state when the project was re-started. With SHA’s approval process potentially taking weeks, this would have further delayed the project, he said.
State Highway Administration requires the town to put down eight inches of pavement on any areas disturbed by the town’s contractor. The depth of this pavement is enough to allow extended driving use until the top coat is finalized by SHA, McCluskey noted. He reassured residents the town would not have to redo any work on the pavement because of the delay by the state.