I-270 and Md 85 interchange construction

Work continues on the Interstate 270/Md. 85 interchange in Frederick. This was the scene Wednesday afternoon looking north from just south of the interchange.

For crews on state road construction projects in Frederick County and the rest of Maryland, the work goes on despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are committed to our core mission of keeping highways operational and construction moving forward, while following best health practices and social distancing to minimize the spread of COVID-19,” State Highway Administration spokesman David Abrams said in an email Wednesday.

On Monday, SHA’s acting administrator, Tim Smith, sent a letter to the agency’s contractors saying that under state and federal guidelines, transportation is considered an essential function, and that work on projects would continue.

He outlined steps the agency has taken to practice social distancing, including moving meetings to virtual settings and staggering shifts to allow construction to continue with fewer workers on a site at a given time.

But he reminded them that any employee who becomes ill or has had contact with someone known to be exposed to the virus must be sent home, and anyone who feels ill before coming to work must stay home.

Any employee who tests positive for the virus should be reported to the SHA contract manager immediately, Smith wrote.

Meanwhile, SHA has also issued guidelines to workers and managers on how to prevent the spread of the virus on job sites.

Supervisors should ask anyone entering the job site whether they or members of their family have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus or is being tested, whether they’ve been directed to self-quarantine, and whether they’ve had flu-like symptoms in the past 48 hours.

Workers should also wash their hands frequently with soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoid congregating in lunch areas or sharing tools, among other precautions, according to the guidelines.

Work on all projects in Frederick County is proceeding as normal, Abrams said, including on some of the most visible projects in the county.

On an interchange project at Interstate 270 and Md. 85, workers expect to place girders for a new bridge deck in early April, Abrams said.

The work will replace two bridges built in 1954 and build one multi-span structure that will include a third bridge on southbound I-270 with new exit lanes and wider shoulders.

The project remains on schedule to be completed in the fall of 2022, Abrams said.

Meanwhile, work on a bridge on Md. 180 over U.S. 15 is still expected to be finished by the summer.

Contractors and SHA staff were on the site Wednesday morning, with maintenance staff working on the median of southbound U.S. 15, Abrams said.

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Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

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