Route 13 Bypass bridges to undergo $20 million in repairs

When the State Highway Administration began building the Route 13 Bypass east of Salisbury in 1970, the modern cloverleafs, with their huge overpasses and efficient entrance and exit ramps, were the state of highway construction art.

Now, 45 years later, many of those bridges would appear to be falling apart, so SHA will spend more than $20 million beginning next fall to rebuild 11 spans along the the north-south loop from Salisbury Boulevard near the Centre At Salisbury mall, all the way to Fruitland.

The bridges were built in stages from north to south, beginning in late 1970 and continuing through 1975.

A Design/Build Project was advertised Dec. 29 for competitive bids from contractors. The bidding phase follows a project information meeting that was held for the public last fall.

Traffic will definitely be affected during construction, according to officials, but the real work won’t begin until after the summer tourist season.

In all, six bridge locations are being rebuilt, with work projected for a completion two long years from now, in early 2018.

SHA officials said the bridges are structurally safe, but showing signs of wear. One bridge support which crosses over Route 50 near Arthur W. Perdue Stadium has chunks of concrete missing, with cement rubble on the roadway shoulder and support apron. Thousands of cars pass by the bridge every day and drivers can easily spot the decay.

Officials said rehabilitating the bridges will reduce future maintenance costs and support safety and mobility as part of the SHA’s bridge preservation program.

During construction, the Route 13 Bypass will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Traffic will be routed to median crossovers that will shift vehicles to one side of the highway.

Access to ramp movements at Route 50 will be maintained during construction.

The hope is that structures on one side of the Bypass will be completed in one fall season, and the structures on the opposite side will be completed the next, so as to avoid traffic impacts during the summer peak.

The 11 bridges are at six locations on the Bypass, spanning Route 13, railroad tracks, Old Ocean City Road, Parker Pond and Mount Hermon Road.

Final Design is scheduled to be completed in late summer 2016, with construction beginning in the fall.

Engineering costs are projected at $471,000; construction costs are pegged at $20 million.

To save expenses, SHA is using the Design-Build process, which — according to the SHA — can shorten the overall duration of a project, reduce costs, and foster innovation in design and construction.

Although design requirements are identified in the contract documents, the final design of the project will not be known until plans are submitted by the Design-Build Team and accepted by SHA.

The Route 13 Bypass is actually the third north-south bypass in Salisbury’s history. Division Street and Camden Avenue were the north-south routings until the 1930s, when Salisbury Boulevard was built slightly to the east.

When Salisbury Boulevard became perpetually enveloped in traffic by the 1960s, the extremely rural Bypass was constructed about 5 miles to the east.

In 2002, the 4.5-mile U.S. 50 Bypass connected to the 13 Bypass to create a northern relief road. It cost $94 million and took two years to construct.

 

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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