A nearly 5-mile stretch of Md. 77 will be closed for several weeks beginning Wednesday so that highway crews can repair 46 culverts, but hikers and tourists will still be able to access nearby Cunningham Falls State Park and other attractions while the work is being done.
The road will close between Pryor Road and Stottlemyer Road from Wednesday through May 23, with other work on the $2.1 million project expected to be finished by the summer of 2020.
The work will be done by Highway & Safety Services, of Gaithersburg.
A detour will take drivers from Md. 77 to U.S. 15 to Md. 550 to Foxville Deerfield Road, and back to Md. 77.
After Md. 77 is reopened, flaggers will direct traffic in both directions from 8 a.m. through 4 p.m., and occasionally from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m.
Culverts are pipes or tunnels built under the road that allow water to flow to help prevent flooding.
The road was closed briefly in early February after one of the culverts scheduled for replacement collapsed, leaving a hole in the road about 6 feet wide.
The culverts along the road are all 50 to 60 years old, and have outlived their useful life, State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said Monday.
Once the road reopens, the rest of the work, such as working in streams, resurfacing, re-striping, and guardrail work, can be done without significantly disrupting traffic, Gischlar said.
Gischlar said Md. 77 is used by about 3,900 vehicles each day.
While the culvert project will cause a disruption for drivers, the impact on Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park are expected to be minimal, officials at those sites said Monday.
The closing of Md. 77 will have some effect on weekends, but little on weekdays, said Mark Spurrier, park manager at Cunningham Falls.
People can still access the park from U.S. 15 or on Catoctin Hollow Road, Spurrier said.
The SHA factored the park’s busiest season into the timing of the project, he said, adding that closing the road would have had a much bigger impact if it had come when the busy summer season starts after Memorial Day.
The visitor center at Catoctin Mountain Park, off Md. 77, will also stay open during the project.
Although the project will have an effect on the flow of traffic around the park, visitors will still be able to access parking areas, trails, picnic sites, and campgrounds, park Superintendent Rick Slade said in an email Monday.
The park’s staff have worked with SHA to maintain access to facilities and make sure that signs are placed to help direct travelers to the visitor center and other parts of the park.
For information or updates, call the visitor center at 301-663-9388 or check the park’s website at www.nps.gov/cato.