Construction-related congestion causing only minor headaches on Frederick Road

Jessica Nelson called her house on Dunmore Drive in Paradise where she has lived for six years, a "prime location" for accessing downtown Catonsville.

So when the Maryland State Highway Administration began a nearly three-year, $20 million project to replace the bridge on Frederick Road that spans Interstate 695 in July, Nelson feared it would cut her family off from the shops and restaurants of Catonsville's main street.

Eight months into the project, Nelson said the construction hasn't impacted her husband and three children, two of whom attend Catonsville Elementary School on Frederick Road, nearly as much as she originally feared.

Occasionally, the construction creates delays that force Nelson to use Edmondson Avenue as a detour, she said.

And with only one sidewalk on the bridge open, the Nelsons haven't walked downtown recently.

But the winter season is likely the biggest culprit for that, she noted.

"They're pretty good about, especially the peak times, getting the kids up to school or home from school, " Nelson said. "It really has not been as bad as I thought."

Rita Hiller, who lives across the bridge from Nelson, said traffic congestion has gotten worse since construction began.

But even that hasn't affected her much, as she seldom drives after suffering a stroke a while ago.

When she does drive, getting out may be easier for Hiller than others.

"I have a handicap sticker and usually people let me out," joked Hiller, who has lived on Holmehurst Avenue since 1974.

The only other occasional inconvenience comes when the construction crews work through the night, Hiller said, and she can hear the heavy equipment in action. But even that doesn't really bother her that much, she said.

When possible, the crews try to limit noise intensive operations between midnight and 7 a.m.

"Because most of the work is behind jersey barriers, we can be out there pretty much 24/7," said Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck.

Though the project hasn't yet reached the halfway point to its scheduled fall 2013 completion, Buck said the SHA will stay in contact with the people most impacted by the construction.

"The job's still got a lot to go, but we're pleased with the fact that, so far, people are moving through with minimal delay," Buck said.

As the project progresses, motorists and nearby residents will need to adjust to different traffic and work patterns.

In May, the SHA will temporarily shut down the ramp from Frederick Road to I-695 north at night, Buck said.

During that time, traffic will be detoured to Wilkens Avenue so crews can reconstruct the ramp to meet the elevation and realignment requirements for the new bridge, Buck said.

In June, the Beltway's outer loop ramp to Frederick Road will be closed for one to two weeks with traffic again detoured to Wilkens Avenue, Buck said.

At some point in the summer, traffic will shift from the southern side of the bridge to the northern side as crews demolish that part of the bridge and prepare a new one, Buck said.

The SHA will provide a schedule about other parts of the project closer to the date when the work will begin, Buck said.

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