Work on a major bridge replacement and interchange project at Interstate 270 and Md. 85 is on schedule, and drivers should see major bridge work begin by the end of the summer.
The $65.5 million project that will replace two bridges on I-270 and widen Md. 85 in both directions, among other changes, is on pace for its scheduled winter 2021 completion, State Highway Administration spokeswoman Shantee Felix said in an email Friday.
Work on the project so far has been relatively minor.
For the past few weeks, crews have been doing nighttime shoulder patching on southbound I-270 between the bridge over New Design Road and Md. 85, with lane closings from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. on weeknights.
Last week, crews finished setting a barrier wall and shifted traffic to allow workers to begin bridge work, Felix said.
This week, they’ll begin putting in pipes and continue with drainage work.
That work won’t require any lane closings, but a small detour may be needed later in the month to do a pipe crossing, Felix said.
The project will eventually replace two aging bridges over Md. 85, building one three-span structure instead.
The two existing bridges were among 69 bridges rated structurally deficient by the state in 2015.
Built in 1950, the bridges carry 115,000 vehicles a day over Md. 85, according to SHA.
That work will mostly be done in the next 18 to 24 months, although drivers should see the beginnings of new structures in August, Felix said.
The project will also widen Md. 85, adding a lane in each direction, from Spectrum Drive to just north of Crestwood Boulevard.
It will add a new median, and ramps and sidewalks that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The interchange project is essentially Phase One of a project that is one of the county’s top transportation priorities, said Ron Burns, transportation engineering manager for the county’s Planning and Permitting Division.
The county included the last two phases of the project in its recent letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation highlighting its top priorities.
The second phase of the project would widen Md. 85 to a four-lane divided roadway between Guilford Drive and Spectrum Drive, along with pedestrian improvements.
The third phase would widen Md. 85 into a six-lane divided road from Crestwood Boulevard to English Muffin Way, with a new bridge over Ballenger Creek.
The interchange and bridge replacement project as a whole would fit into larger plans for work along I-270.
In 2017, the state announced plans to use a mix of public and private funding to build toll lanes on I-270, Interstate 495, and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
The work being done on I-270 would be consistent with that project, Burns said.