The town of Thurmont is considering a multimillion-dollar streetscape project that would fix problem spots on Carroll Street and Woodside Avenue with the possibility of a new stormwater drainage system.

At last week’s town meeting, Doug Smith, senior project manager for Arro Engineering in Hagerstown, presented the mayor and commissioners with preliminary findings of problem spots on those two streets as well as two possible projects that would eliminate those problem areas.

In surveying the two streets, Smith looked at about 4,900 feet of road and concluded that 20 percent of it is in need of complete rehabilitation, meaning excavating down to the original soil subgrade — 12 to 18 inches down — and bringing the full section back up.

He also found gutter pads that were paved over, which will eventually crack due to heavy traffic.

“The streets are in bad shape,” Smith told commissioners. “It’s apparent that there is subgrade failure in some sections, although all is not lost. There are some areas that are performing better, there are some areas that are performing worse.”

Along with pavement problems, he also looked at the stormwater problem on Carroll Street, Woodside Avenue and Carroll Street Extended. If a system were put in place, Smith looked at a water discharge near the water tower or tying it into the stormwater management pond.

“There are some storm drain structures there. However, they are few and far between,” he said. “More storm drains would allow that water to get off the street ... and be taken to where it needs to be.”

He planned to prepare an engineering proposal by the end of the week which would include sampling the subgrade, testing the soil and evaluating the pavement to see how much of truck traffic it can carry.

He would also conduct a traffic survey to understand the amount of truck traffic on the roads and how much the town can expect in 20 years.

He then presented the commissioners with two estimates — one with the storm drain project, one without.

A project without new storm drains would cost $3.149 million; a project with storm drains would cost $5.3 million.

A full project is estimated to take 12 to 15 months to complete. During that time, only one lane would be open to traffic.

Mayor John Kinnaird said the town of Thurmont has historically had stormwater issues. Adding a system to get water off Carroll Street would be in the best interest of residents and businesses, he added.

“We have been remiss in the past in not putting in sufficient stormwater facilities,” he said. “If we’re going to do this roadway, and do it right, I think this is a critical, critical part of the equation ... that we make sure we take care of stormwater runoff.”

While there is a price difference of $2 million, he believes adding new storm drains is worth the investment.

Commissioner Martin Burns, though, raised a concern that the estimated cost may actually be more.

“I would rather know it’s going to be $7 million versus $5 million and know that it’s not going to be any more than $7 million,” he said. “I’d rather have that number now than you come back to us later and say, ‘we did all this engineering work and it’s really going to cost you six and a half.’”

He also suggested using the $5 million on multiple streets throughout the town that need work, instead of just two.

“It’s not about the money,” he said. “We’ve got to spend it here or at a different road over time. My issue is, is this the best bang for your buck to serve a majority of the residents.”

He suggested a traffic study to analyze all roads in Thurmont, which would then give the commissioners more information to make a better decision for such a project.

“The bottom line is, you keep what you have good as good and what you have bad you plan on completely tearing out and rebuilding,” Smith said. “Trying to patch it and putting in an inch of overlay sometimes does not fix the problem.”

The commissioners did not vote on the project but asked Smith about the life expectancy of the roads if they continue to patch the problem areas. Smith answered that patching problem areas would buy them only about seven years.

In previous years, the town has patched Carroll Street and Woodside Avenue several times, according to Jim Humerick, Thurmont’s chief administrative officer.

“If you try to do something halfways, you really get half the life,” Smith said. “Until you do it correctly, it’s never going to get any better. You’re going to spend three times as much in maintenance.”

Commissioner Bill Buehrer added that putting a Band-Aid on a problem is just putting good on top of bad.

“You’ll never catch up,” he said. “It’s a vicious circle.”

Follow CJ Fairfield on Twitter: @FairfieldCj.

(6) comments

desii

Be forewarned: Take a look at Middletown and Jefferson right now...September 2019...they have undertaken the same projects..StreetScape; be prepared for EXTENSIVE delays in the project. If you want to save money, write into the contract expected dates of completion for certain areas...this will allow you to get the project for little to nothing, in my opinion, as they take absolutely FOREVER to do the project...over a year and counting - for both areas. On both projects, they did a small area relative to the overall project. Curb to curb, drainage, blacktop; the whole nine; the rest has been piece meal and very, very slow; with very rough roads to deal with daily. Today there was a crew of 5 or 6 with 3 sitting in the shade while the backhoe guy ripped up some old sidewalk. Yeah, it was hot...but the only way major work seems to get done is if the sub-contracted concrete crew comes out, full force and knocks out some areas, then back to the wait and see.

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It's a real joke. LW Wolfe appears to be the overall contractor, but I can't be sure. Some days this summer there was absolutely no work being completed. And this has been a year with little rain to cause any type of delay.

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A bridge has been built over Rte 85 for Rte 270 quicker.

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So, add some penalty clauses and you are sure to save big bucks, IMO.

krdiamond

LW Wolfe isn't the general contractor for the Middletown Streetscape project. It is a SHA project that was to take 2 years. SHA projects have penalty clauses in them.

MD1756

The Mayor and Commissioners had better listen to the engineer if they want to be good stewards of the taxpayers money. At least the Mayor recognizes that they haven't been keeping up with their infrastructure. Commissioner Burns however, needs to rethink his position if he is to be equitable to all tax payers. The article states "He (Burns) also suggested using the $5 million on multiple streets throughout the town that need work, instead of just two." and quotes Burns "...“It’s not about the money,” he said. “We’ve got to spend it here or at a different road over time. My issue is, is this the best bang for your buck to serve a majority of the residents....” That is just flat wrong. It is about the money. The government hasn't been devoting enough taxes to properly maintaining the roads and doesn't have the funds to do everything it needs to. Think about the roads before approving a grant for something that is not a core government responsibility for example. Additionally, while the concept of best bang for the buck for the majority of residents sound fair, it is not necessarily a good measure when you are not fully funding core government responsibilities. Effectively you are providing worse service to those at the edges than the majority of the residents even though they may pay the same tax rates. For example, live on a dead end street and you're screwed by that principle. A study should be done but it should identify realistic infrastructure needs not just some. Then tax the people to pay for it and stop increasing services when core responsibilities cannot be met. It seems that most levels of government have the same problem and the voters just blindly accept decisions by the politicians that are irrational if you truly take a long term view and the view that all taxpayers should receive the same service for the same tax rates.

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] md1756. You make perfect sense. Make a list of projects and prioritize them. Maintenence of prior infrastructure should come before new projects. Make a pareto chart, from highest to lowest priority. Then fund the projects until the funds run out. Everyone pays the same taxes, so everyone should expect the same services.

gary4books

Drain the storm? Of course they should. Find a place o the water to go and you will have a happy future. You might even store some for a dry day.

big truck John

Yea I agree, there are several roads that need repair - Apples Church being one. All those tractor trailers, etc. on top of regular traffic, that road is bad all the way up past the train tracks. Especially now at the beginning when turning onto from Main street, between the construction of the Ice place and the work on Main, it is being torn up.

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