Motorists traveling on southbound Interstate 270 in Frederick will have to seek an alternative route if they want to get off at the exit for northbound Md. 85.
Should they miss the detour, they’ll will have to travel about 5 miles until they reach the next exit in Urbana.
Work on the major highway project will close the ramp for exit 31A from southbound I-270 to northbound Md. 85 for at least a month. The ramp was scheduled to close Monday night and is expected to reopen before Memorial Day, according to the State Highway Administration.
It’s part of a $58 million project to remake the interchange of I-270 and Md. 85, which is intended to reduce congestion on the busy highway, and remove two structurally deficient bridges that carry traffic on I-270 over Md. 85.
The project will replace the two bridges and build one three-span structure, and widen Md. 85 in both directions, among other changes.
Built in 1950, the bridges carry 115,000 vehicles a day over Md. 85.
Monday’s ramp closing will allow crews to match pavement elevations in the interchange, according to SHA.
While the ramp is closed, drivers on Interstate 70 and U.S. 15 will be directed to use eastbound I-70 and exit at Md. 85.
Drivers who miss the detour will have to continue south on I-270 to the Md. 80 exit in Urbana, which is about 5 miles away.
The project is almost 40 percent completed, SHA spokeswoman Shantee Felix said in an email Monday.
After the ramp work is finished, crews will begin the next phase of the interchange project, which will involve shifting traffic to a new bridge over Md. 85.
That phase will include the demolition of one bridge and the construction of another. Once it’s finished, that bridge will be used for traffic on southbound I-270.
A third bridge will include new turning and merging lanes to improve safety and ease congestion, and provide better access to Md. 85 in both directions.
John Cohen, a manager at Beyond Comics, on Md. 85 north of the ramp, worried that the ramp being closed could hurt his business.
He said he hadn’t gotten information from the state about the project.
“That’s going to be my bigger complaint,” he said.
He predicted that his Hagerstown customers will be affected by the change.
The store celebrates Free Comic Book Day on May 4, with large crowds expected, and Cohen was concerned that the closed ramp will adversely affect attendance.
Cohen said he won’t be able to judge the impact that the work will have on his business until he hears from his customers.
But he expects that some customers will have trouble finding their way around the detour.
“We’ll probably have a hit, I just don’t know how bad,” Cohen said.