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Small bridge on Carrs Mill Road between Bel Air and Fallston may finally be replaced this summer

The Aegis
Right-of-way problems have delayed the project

Harford County expects to begin construction this summer on a replacement for a small bridge on Carrs Mill Road between Bel Air and Fallston that handles around 8,000 vehicles a day.

The county government and Baltimore Regional Transportation Board held an informational session at the Bel Air Library Monday night to update the public on the project.

Two residents of Grafton Shop Road - Roger Niles and Ed Vasbinder - said their main concern with the project is detour traffic, which Niles said has been a problem on their street since Watervale Road was closed last spring for the replacement of a bridge on that road over Winters Run.

Glen Hebel, the project engineer for Harford County Public Works, explained there won’t be a detour needed for the Carrs Mill project, because they intend to erect a temporary span, while the new one is constructed.

Moreover, he said, the new Watervale bridge – whose completion has been delayed – should finally be done by June 1, well before mid-August when work begins on Carrs Mill Road.

According to BRTB, the $2.4 million project replaces the 66-year old triple-cell concrete pipe bridge that carries Carrs Mill Road over the Bear Cabin Branch stream. The severely deteriorated concrete pipes and slate head walls need replacement.

The bridge is between the Grafton Shop Road intersection and Winters Run, along a heavily traveled route and in an area that is prone to flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.

The project has been delayed for several years because of right-of-way issues, according to past information from Harford County highway officials. Those issues are close to being resolved, Cindy Mumby, spokesperson for Harford County government, said Monday morning.

Mumby said the bridge handles 8,000 vehicles daily.

The Transportation Improvement Program amendment adds a total of $1.5 million in federal Surface Transportation Program and local matching funds for construction and inspection fees. Total funding in the 2016-19 TIP increases from $500,000 to $2,395,000, according to the BRTB.

The Harford County Board of Estimates approved a $195,952 contract Tuesday with BGE for relocation of utilities associated with the bridge replacement.

According to bid documents, Harford eventually will be reimbursed for 80 percent of its expenditures by the State Highway Administration.

Mumby said the project has been designed and should go out to bid in July.

Hebel, who was joined at Monday’s meeting by county planner Alex Rawls, said the project should be complete next spring.

A plan to install a temporary bridge while the permanent span is being constructed means traffic, including school buses that use the route, should not be affected.

The temporary bridge will be erected to the south of the existing bridge, the Winters Run side, which is a low lying area between the road and where Bear Cabin Branch flows into Winters Run.

Niles, Vasbinder and John Scarborough, who also attended, said Carrs Mill Road handles significant traffic from commuters and people looking for another way out of Bel Air, as well as hundreds of vehicles going in and out of Fallston High and Middle School.

Vasbinder said most of the road is in bad shape, deteriorating in places where the edges have eroded.

“We have an opportunity, so why don’t we fix the whole road?” he asked.

Hebel said some eroding areas are going to be addressed by the county, but in terms of a complete reconstruction, there is a “long term plan,” but no funding for it.

The new bridge will have a single 40-foot opening, but its elevation won’t be much above that of the current bridge, Hebel said. Without the culvert pipes, the road will “flood less,” Hebel said; however, “we still expect it to flood in a major storm as Winters Run backs up.”

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