Construction to fix flaws in the recently completed Intercounty Connector could cause traffic slowdowns starting next week, Maryland officials warned.
Inspectors in the fall found premature cracks on bridges along the new $2.6 billion highway that now runs from Interstate 370 in Shady Grove to Interstate 95 in Prince George's County. The affected overpasses are at Md. 97/Georgia Avenue, Emory Lane, Muncaster Mill Road and Needwood Road, officials said.
A review found that the four bridges were not designed with enough steel to handle the wear of traffic long term, according to the State Highway Administration. State officials have said there are no imminent safety concerns, but are fixing it as a precaution.
Initially, crews wrapped the bridge piers with steel cable. But they now need to install steel rods so the bridges can last an anticipated 50 to 75 years.
Officials said they are still evaluating several other bridges along the ICC -- from Md. 97 to I-95 -- to determine if they need shoring up, too.
Crews may need to close down shoulder lanes as they work, but the highway and bridges are slated to remain open during the six to eight weeks of construction.
The State Highway Administration said the contractors will be paying for the work, not the state.
The first portion of the 18-mile Intercounty Connector opened a year ago after decades of planning and controversy. The second segment opened in November and late last month the state awarded an $89 million contract for an additional one-mile segment to connect the road to U.S. Route 1.
It's the latest major transportation project to face questions about construction work and integrity. Late last year a Maryland construction manager was fined more than $131,000 and sentenced to a year of home detention in connection to a case of providing subpar concrete for the building of Woodrow Wilson Bridge and Interstate 70 near Baltimore, both massive federally funded projects. The Silver Spring Transit Center, now under construction, remains under dispute on whether the concrete meets standards.