BERLIN – The preliminary construction work for the Route 50 service road is moving forward as expected this summer.
“Work is progressing. They’re concentrating right now on the Route 50 corridor,” said John Tustin, director of Worcester County Public Works.
Work can be seen underway east of Holly Grove Rd. on the shoulder of Route 50. Tustin said that work would shortly be moving to the west of Holly Grove Rd.
Current construction is building turning lanes on the highway. Crews will then turn to reconfiguring Holly Grove Rd., which must be straightened out to meet the highway at a 90-degree angle. There are no plans to add a traffic signal to that intersection.
“It’s been going well so far,” Tustin said.
The dry weather has helped to keep the work on schedule, he said, and the heat has not been a hindrance.
There is little to report, according to Tustin, as the work is going smoothly.
“Nothing out of the ordinary right now,” he said.
The project, intended to one day reach from Holly Grove Rd., along the north of the Wal-Mart and Home Depot parking lots and then all the way to Seahawk Rd., has been on the minds of the county’s elected officials for several years.
The Maryland State Highway Administration initially declined to undertake the project, and the Worcester County Commissioners determined to have the road constructed on the county’s dime.
Funding for the road will come from state highway user funds, which are passed through to the county every year. None of the funding will come from state coffers.
The commissioners have dedicated a total of $3.2 million of those funds to the new service road.
Commissioner Judy Boggs said that the county has put aside funds over the last few years so the county could avoid going to the bond market for the money.
Some funding will come from Wal-Mart and Home Depot as well, according to county spokesperson Kim Moses.
The new road is intended to alleviate local traffic traveling to the large and popular big box retail stores, which are expected to see some retail company in the future.
Plans call for Route 589 to be extended to meet the service road on the south side of Route 50.
As the county population grows, traffic on the highway will also grow, and the service road should reduce some of that crowding, officials hope.
The full service road could take as long as five years to complete.