The last portion of road construction along Route 22 in Aberdeen is expected to be completed by spring 2018, about four years after 18 dwellings along the highway were razed as part of a state project to widen parts of the it and make safety improvements at three intersections.
The State Highway Administration is overseeing a slew of improvements, including installation of the first highway noise barriers in Harford County, between the intersection with Beards Hill Road and the main gate at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The intersections being improved are at Beards Hill, Paradise Road and Old Post Road, according to the SHA.
City and state officials are also trying to work out who will cover the cost of relocating city utilities from the state's right-of-way.
The Route 22 improvements are meant to "improve intersection safety and capacity to handle increased traffic in Aberdeen generated by the federal BRAC," according to SHA spokesperson Kellie Boulware.
Concrete barriers and construction equipment have become a familiar sight when heading east or west on Route 22. Recently, lanes have been paved and pilings installed for the noise wall/sound barriers along sections of the highway that are near residential areas.
The barriers are being erected around the Old Post Road and Paradise Road intersections, according to a project update provided by the SHA last week.
Those barriers "will help minimize noise levels for area residents," Boulware wrote in an email.
The Route 22 improvements are part of a series of BRAC-related road improvement projects in Harford County, projects designed to handle what was anticipated to be significant residential and commercial growth resulting from the 2005-2011 BRAC process.
The Aberdeen and Havre de Grace areas did experience some growth as military and civilian personnel transferred from Ft. Monmouth, N.J., to APG, but not as much as anticipated. Still, the Army post remains Harford County's largest employer with 18,000 to 22,000 people on site per day.
The four-lane Route 22, also known as the Aberdeen Thruway while going through the city, is one of Aberdeen's major east-west thoroughfares. It has access to I-95 via an interchange west of Beards Hill Road.
The improvements at each intersection in the work area have been listed as separate projects – the three projects have a combined cost of $45.7 million. The intersection project at Old Post Road, closest to the APG gate, will be finished by December, according to Boulware.
The Old Post Road project started in the spring 2014. It includes improvements such as widening the highway in both directions to create a third lane on each side, widening Old Post Road at the intersection to create an additional through lane going north and extending the left turn lane heading south, replacing the existing traffic signal and resurfacing the existing pavement.
"The final phase of construction is nearly complete with minor 'punch list' items to be done, such as: completing a section of fence installation, some more landscaping and clearing out drainage pipes," Boulware wrote.
The general contractor for the work is Allan Myers-Maryland Inc., of Fallston. The projected cost is $9.4 million, according to the SHA.
The intersection at Paradise Road is slated to be completed next, by the fall 2017, according to Boulware's email. That projected cost is $19.8 million, and the contractor is A-Del Construction Inc., of Newark, Del.
Work started in the spring 2015 with the relocation of utilities followed by the start of road construction that summer. The highway around that intersection will be widened to create a third lane in both directions, plus the traffic signal will be replaced, the pavement resurfaced, turn lanes added for Route 22 and Paradise Road and noise walls installed along with a 48-inch storm drain pipe connected to a nearby stormwater management pond, according to Boulware.
The final intersection at Beards Hill Road is scheduled for completion in the spring 2018 at a projected cost of $16.5 million. The contractor is Allan Myers-Maryland.
Work there began in the spring 2015; it includes widening Route 22 in both directions, replacing the traffic signal, placing retaining walls along the east side of Route 22 at the Chick-fil-A restaurant and on the west side at the Aberdeen Fire Department's Route 22 station.
Additional work includes building new curbs and gutters and sidewalks in the project area, resurfacing Beards Hill and Route 22 in the project area, storm drain work and new and extended turn lanes at the intersection, according to Boulware. A Level 3 communication line must also be relocated before the storm drain work is complete, Boulware noted.
City and state officials are working closely on the project, with the SHA providing regular updates. Both are trying to determine who is responsible for covering the cost of relocating city water and sewer lines that were in the SHA's right of way along Route 22.
On an ordinary project, the utility company – the City of Aberdeen in this case – would either hire a contractor to remove the lines or reimburse the state for removing them, according to Kyle Torster, the city's public works director.
"However, this was a BRAC initiative so the necessity to relocate those utilities was to benefit the BRAC relocation," Torster said Tuesday.
He said the city and state are trying to work out who is responsible for utility relocation costs since "those things were not clear at the time these projects were finalized and designed."
Torster, who has been public works director for about two years, noted the Route 22 widening has been on the books for about eight years.
He said the exact cost to relocate the city lines is unknown, but it is expected to be "fairly expensive."