By Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor
(March 15, 2018) While commuters, travelers and visitors have been staring at pristine new lanes of road that will eventually become Route 113’s new northbound lanes for months, the chance to actually use them is coming early next week, so long as the weather cooperates.
“We don’t like to do major traffic shifts when conditions are less than ideal,” Bob Rager, district community liaison, said. “Always better to have drivers focus on the new pattern without other distractions.”
The shift from the old lanes to the new is scheduled for March 19.
“Once that shift happens and the weather breaks things should move along quickly,” Rager said.
The lane shift is the last major milestone of Phase 3, from Massey Branch Road south to Five Mile Branch Road, which is expected to be finished by summer.
Phase 3 is the section and is scheduled to be complete this summer. At last count, this section was estimated to cost about $62 million and was the most expensive portion of the project so far.
Phase 4 is also underway and is the final phase of the dualization work. Expected to be open in 2019, this construction will complete the transformation of the road from a two lane to a four lane highway.
The next milestone on the Phase 4 side of the construction is expected this spring, Rager said.
“We have a lot of grading and compaction to do — unfortunately, all soil compaction is moisture-dependent,” he said. “Heavy rains and snow make progress difficult and this is exacerbated by continued cold temperatures. Cold air doesn’t hold much moisture, so even on the sunny days drying is a very slow process right now.”
The heavy winds the shore has been experiencing for the last week have helped some, he said, but warmer temperatures and more sun is what will really get the process moving.
“We’ll also have some news on crossroad pipe installation in the coming weeks — not terribly exciting but it’s progress motorists will see,” Rager said.
Phases 4-5 were expected to cost about $108 million combined, with the entire project costing about $227 million, if the costs keep in line with estimates.
Phase 5 is an overpass at the junction of Route 113 and Snow Hill Road, but no road construction.
Dualization was first discussed decades ago in response to a series of accidents on the road.
During the offseason, according to information provided by the state, the highway carries 9,250 — 13,000 vehicles daily, increasing by a couple hundred more during the summer. By 2035, the state estimates traffic on Rt. 113 will increase significantly.