Despite two snowstorms, East County ICC stays on target
Crews expect Briggs Chaney bridge to open this fall
Though snow, ice and rain have delayed progress at many Intercounty Connector construction sites, officials say they expect the Briggs Chaney Road bridge between Route 29 and Fairland Road in Burtonsville to be completed as scheduled in fall 2010.
This past year has been one of the snowiest and wettest the region has ever seen, forcing many sites with clay-like dirt to hire additional crews and work extra overnight shifts, said ICC spokeswoman Fran Counihan. Along Contract C, the eastern-most portion of the ICC including Burtonsville, the dirt is sandier and crews have been able to work around the unpredictable weather, said Resident Engineer Bob Farley.
"They're a lot more sensitive to the wet weather [as you go West] than we tend to be with the type of the soils we have on this end of the ICC project," he said. "It's a lot more sandy, silty dirt, so it tends to dry out in a shorter time frame than the clay-type soil does over on their side."
This will no doubt be welcome news to nearby residents, who have in the past complained that the sound of splicing steel and hammering nuts and bolts has kept them awake at all hours.
"We've had some feedback that many of the people are eager to have the construction be over and get the road opened on time rather than have to extend it into another year," Counihan said. Farley predicted that the bridge would not require extra crews or overnight shifts to open on time. Contractors factor in some level of inclement weather, especially during the winter, when creating deadlines, he said.
But in many other parts of the ICC, overnight work and extra crews are required to meet environmental deadlines that mandate work near streams must have been finished Monday, when fish spawning season began. Coupled with muddy sites where even construction vehicles can't maneuver, Contract Athe western portion of the ICCis behind.
"Since we started the project with Contract A, we've had a fair amount of challenges in terms of weather," Counihan said. "It hasn't been just this blizzard. It's been cumulative, particularly over the past year with spring, summer and fall. The whole year has been a very wet year."
At this point, Counihan said those crews are finding windows of opportunity during sunny, dry days to continue work. They expect to lengthen days, hire extra crews and expand the number of nights and weekends that crews are out, she said.
Because contractors bid a specific amount of money for the job, they will eat the extra cost to get the job done, she said. In the case of Contract C, which extends from Route 29 to Interstate 95, contractors were paid $513.9 million to open their portion of the ICC by late 2011.
The Briggs Chaney Bridge will elevate the road so the ICC can go underneath, Counihan said. Once the bridge is completed, crews can remove a quarter million yards of dirt to allow for the alignment of the ICC, she said. As crews move forward with regularly-scheduled overnight work, she and Farley said residents should take note of road signs, mailings and door hangings that notify neighbors of upcoming work and lane closures.