Construction on the new Frederick Road bridge across the Baltimore Beltway has advanced to its final stages and the project could be completed by Christmas.
Or, it could take up to six months, according to State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck, who said weather will play a crucial role in the project's progress.
"The weather has been the friend of every construction project recently, because it's been so beautiful out," Buck said. "[But] we still have several major things to do."
The $16.5 million project to build a new bridge — complete with sidewalks and bike lanes — began in summer of 2011. If all goes well, Buck said, the bridge could be complete before the end of 2013.
"The asphalt plant shuts down if it gets too cold," Buck said. "If you get winter early, and the asphalt plant shuts down, you're done until they open back up in early April.
"Around Thanksgiving, we'll have a really good idea then if we're really close and want to push forward," Buck said on Oct. 2. "But there's no way we can make that commitment Oct. 2 because everything would have to go perfectly for the next 10 weeks."
Even if weather prevents completion before 2014, Buck said, commuters could see changes even earlier.
"There's the milestone when people see the benefit of the project, and then there's when you're actually done," he said.
Among the early benefits will be the new lanes on Frederick Road to access the Beltway, he said.
Residents are already beginning to notice.
"It certainly seems like with the good weather, they're been able to make great progress," said Paradise resident Scott Schools.
Schools is excited about the possibilities.
"It's just going to make it so much more accessible," Schools said. "In my opinion, and a lot of people I talk to, it's really going to help connect the neighborhood of Paradise with the village of Catonsville.
"In a pedestrian mindset, it won't be as intimidating to cross the Beltway," he said.
Prior to the new bridge's installation, crossing the ramp any way other than by car was treacherous, Schools said.
"I bike in traffic all the time," he said. "I've biked in major cities all over, but that little area right there was kind of like, 'Hmm, am I going to make it through here?' "
He said the bridge will be "so much more user friendly."
According to 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk, the project has been a long time coming.
"When it's all said and done, it's taken a while, but it's going to look really nice," Quirk said. "It looks a lot better than what we had before.
"They want to make sure the bridge they're putting in works for Catonsville for the next 30 or 40 years," he said.
"That was a big capital commitment to this area," Quirk said. "We've been really lucky as a community. With [state Sen. Ed] Kasemeyer, [Del. James] Malone and [Del. Steve] DeBoy, we've had three legislators really looking out for this area for infrastructure funding."
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