LONACONING — Douglas Avenue is not expected to be open to local traffic until late next month or early November, and to everybody else in December.
A $2.7 million road widening and improvement project by Excavation Associates has closed the roadway for the last few months. The work necessitates a half-hour detour that covers more than 14 miles to circumvent the 1 1/2-mile project on Douglas Avenue from old Beechwood Road to the Garrett-Allegany County line.
State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar apologized for “any inconvenience to motorists.”
“We appreciate their patience and understanding during this construction. We are working hard to overcome the immense geology of the job,” he said.
Pilings for the retaining wall are being drilled deep into the ground, some locations more than 80 feet, according to Gischlar.
But when the project is completed, the new and improved Douglas Avenue will provide safer travel conditions for more than 350 motorists who travel the road daily.
For now, motorists east of the Douglas Hill Avenue/Route 36 intersection traveling west are detoured south on Route 36 to south on Route 935, right on Bartlett Run Road, left onto Michael Road, left onto Russell Road, right on Westernport Road, right on Swamp Road, and right onto Avilton Lonaconing Road/Douglas Hill Avenue.
Motorists west of the closure area traveling to Lonaconing or points east will follow Avilton Lonaconing Road, turn left onto Swamp Road, left onto Westernport Road, left onto Russell Road, right onto Michael Road, right onto Bartlett Run Road, and left onto Route 935 north, back to the Douglas Hill Avenue intersection with Route 36.
The project has also required the Good Will Volunteer Fire Department to place a mini-pumper/brush truck at the far end of the project side to respond to calls in the west end of the company’s service.
“In the last couple days, we’ve responded to some brush fires within that area,” said Good Will Fire Chief Bobby Ritchie, who has attended various SHA meetings to keep up to speed on the project. “For now, we take our volunteers up by vehicle to man the truck but then they have to walk about a quarter-mile to get to the mini -pumper that we have parked above the construction site.” Construction workers provide the volunteers a ride through the project area when they are on-site during the day.
“It’s the best we can do for now. It allows us to start with patient care until the rest of the necessary equipment gets there, whether it’s with our department or mutual-aid companies. There are a number of homes in that area that we need to be concerned with. The project delays our response by five minutes or more,” said Ritchie.
That response time will improve once local traffic resumes on Douglas Avenue in October or November when first-responders will be allowed to use the roadway. The roadway’s first layer of base asphalt is expected to be in place at that time.
In December, the base course will be completed to allow all traffic on Douglas Avenue, according to Gischlar.
New guardrails, storm drains and retaining walls are being installed as part of the project.
Upon completion and following inspection, the SHA will transfer maintenance of the roadway to Allegany County. “Part of the agreement will be SHA’s assumption of Messick Road and Williams Road,” said Gischlar.
Contact Jeffrey Alderton at email@example.com.