EASTON — A cold, wet spring has delayed the paving schedules for the Maryland Department of Transportation, and that potentially could affect drivers who use state Route 333 and U.S. Route 50 during the next few weeks.
“Crews are trying hard to make up time and finish our fiscal year 2018 resurfacing list before [the] fiscal year ends June 30,” MDOT District spokesman Robert Rager said.
A patching and sealing project is in progress on Route 333 from Peachblossom Creek to state Route 322 in Easton. Rager said the work hours have been 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but because of input from the public, these hours are likely to change to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Crews are finishing up the patching project this week and will return in a few weeks to complete the resurfacing and striping. Rager said because of the reduced hours the crews can work, the project might take longer than usual.
“While we had hoped to increase productivity via extended work hours, we recognize that the public impact is too great in some locations,” he said. “So we’re modifying schedules to reduce this impact and hoping for warm, dry weather through the rest of June to help us stay on target.”
Calling the latest traffic snarl “unacceptable,” Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot, called the Maryland Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration district engineer on Thursday, June 7, after fielding numerous calls about the morning rush hour gridlock at the intersection of Easton Parkway (Route 322) and Peachblossom Road.
Construction crews are conducting daytime patching and microsurfacing repairs, and therein lies the problem, Mautz said.
“We need to have a meeting about daytime work,” Mautz said. “One-lane (closures don’t) work on the main arteries.”
At 9:30 a.m., Mautz said he had explained the problem to SHA, which agreed to change the roadwork schedule to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., instead of the original 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedule.
SHA was not willing to change to a night work schedule, but “I’m grateful they’re willing to work with us,” Mautz said. “Kids are on school buses with 20- to 30-minute delays.”
Last month, Mautz worked with the SHA to switch the Route 333 construction project from Pea Neck Road in St. Michaels to Route 322 from day to night work because of traffic congestion that caused hour-long waits for commuters and students.
One commuter on Peachblossom Road said it took 30 minutes to get through the intersection. She said she saw other drivers making dangerous U-turns to avoid the tie-up.
“I’m not sure this will resolve the issue, but I think it will help improve the situation,” Mautz said. “I’m going to keep watching and listening to see how it goes.”
Next week, preliminary road work will start on Route 50 west from Chapel Road to Airport Road. Rager said this resurfacing project is unusual because crews will be removing the existing railroad tracks. In the first part of the project, crews will use a saw to cut around the steel rails on June 12.
Once the rails are removed, crews will patch the area. Repaving will begin on June 18, and crews will be working overnight hours, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, to reduce the impact on drivers.