Cracks are found on three ICC bridges

Construction crews began repairs Tuesday after state inspectors found hairline cracks in the supports of three bridges over the Intercounty Connector. The work requires lane closings on the section of the toll road that is already open.

Melinda Peters, the State Highway Administration's project director for the $2.6 billion ICC, said the contractor was directed to fix the concrete supports, or piers, after engineers and an independent expert determined that repairs were needed to ensure the long-term safety and durability of the bridges.

Peters said single-lane closings are expected over the next two weeks but vehicular flow is unlikely to be affected because traffic volume is not heavy.

According to the state, the design contractor will be responsible for the cost of the repairs, which will not require the bridges to be closed.

The three bridges involved — all in Montgomery County — carry Emory Lane, Needwood Road and Georgia Avenue over the ICC. The highway is open between Georgia Avenue (Route 97) in the east and Interstate 370 in the west.

Peters said the segment between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 95 is scheduled to open by the end of this year. Previously, the state had not said whether the section would open this year or in early 2012.

Cracks were found in all 13 caps atop the piers of the three bridges, Peters said. The discovery prompted the state to ask the design contractor to recheck its work, and the contractor found a deficiency in the steel reinforcement of the concrete.

The designer, a joint venture of Parsons Transportation Group and Jacobs Engineering, has acknowledged the error and accepted financial responsibility, Peters said.

Taxpayers are protected by a performance bond that would cover the repair costs even if the contractor could not, Peters said.

Over the next two weeks, crews will wrap the caps in high-tension cables to prevent further cracking while engineers devise a long-term solution, state officials said.

The ICC is a roughly 18-mile toll road intended to link I-95 in Prince George's County with the Interstate 270 corridor in Montgomery County. Construction began in 2007.

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