Roadwork continues on I-70 through Frederick
South Street bridge replacement beginning; speed cameras deployed today
To ensure safety of drivers and construction crews along Interstate 70, speed cameras have been deployed effective Monday, according to an administration spokesman.
Charlie Gischlar, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said the cameras are part of the organization's improved safety efforts at construction sites, and began to be used in 2009.
Camera use became effective Monday. Warnings will be issued until May 22 while citations will be issued beginning May 23.
Gischlar said there are several large signs describing the camera's placement, as well as a speed radar trailer alongside I-70 to show drivers' speeds before entering the construction zone. The posted speed is 55 mph through the area.
"There will be plenty of warning," Gischlar said. "There's a 12 mph buffer zone. You have to be going 12 mph over; That's a pretty fast speed ... You hear everybody say' it's all about money.' It truly is about safety that's why we put the tremendous warning in front."
The improvement project is the second phase of a massive reworking of the traffic pattern near I-70, which includes replacing the highway's bridges and widening the road to three lanes through the Frederick area. To accommodate the construction, lanes have been shifted along South Street as crews begin the process of deconstructing the 54-year-old bridge, beginning with the right lanes, Gischlar said.
The work is part of a $107 million project by the Maryland State Highway Administration to alleviate traffic along South Market Street and provide alternate routes into downtown Frederick. The overall project will be completed in the summer of 2013, according to a press release.
Already completed work, which has been taking place since 2005, includes a new bridge over I-70, and the replacement of the Md. Route 355/Market Street bridge over I-70; new exit and entrance ramps from westbound I-70 onto Md. Route 85/East Street; and an extension of East Street past South Street.
Also part of the expansion is the widening of I-70 to three lanes in each direction between Route 355 and west of South Street, and the construction of three storm water management ponds and pumping stations.
Additionally, crews will construct a new railroad crossing at the intersection of South Street and Monocacy Boulevard. The railroad crossing entrance to the quarry run by Lafarge North America, Inc., will be relocated approximately 300 feet south to maintain alignment directly across from the new westbound I-70 exit ramp.
Gischlar said the cameras have made a noticeable difference to work crews.
"We have noticed that people have been slowing down," he said. "That's anecdotally coming from our workers out there. We just want to warn people: this is an improvement project, it's going to be in progress."
Richard Griffin, the city's director of economic development, said in an interview in March the changing traffic structure allows for increased and better access to Frederick's downtown businesses, an important part of helping them thrive.
Griffin called transportation access a "critical component" of business infrastructure in Frederick, and said that the new interchanges provide a valuable means of access to Frederick's downtown business, as well as the surrounding business areas.
For more information about the project, or any other state numbered roadway in Frederick County, call the State Highway Administration at 301-624-8100 or toll free at 800-635-5119.