A section of Route 4 leading to the Gov. Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge will be resurfaced this week during nighttime hours. Weather permitting, work should be completed within a week, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration.
Between 100 and 150 feet of Route 4's surface in St. Mary's County leading to the bridge over the Patuxent River will be milled down, resurfaced and restriped, said Charlie Gischlar, public information officer for Maryland SHA. No work will be done on the bridge itself.
Contractor crews planned to start work Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and work will continue weeknights between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. A lane will be closed during work and a flagging operation will guide drivers through the area.
A lane on the two-lane Johnson bridge was closed overnight last week to install a new anemometer, which measures wind speed, atop the span, about 140 feet above the water. The bridge carries an average of about 27,000 vehicles a day.
This resurfacing work is part of a $6.1 million contract awarded to Bardon Aggregate Industries. That contract also includes the resurfacing of two miles of Great Mills Road from St. Mary's Square to Route 5 in Great Mills. That work began late last month and is scheduled to be completed by the end of April.
These resurfacing projects are nicknamed “shave and paves,” Gischlar said, and are targeted to roadways where “the ride surface is terrible.” About two inches of road surface is milled off and a new surface is applied to improve ride quality. The projects go quickly, he said, if the weather cooperates. Resurfacing requires dry weather and temperatures higher than 50 degrees.
“There were many sunken potholes that had been problematic for drivers for a number of years” on the two-mile section of Great Mills Road, said Robin Finnacom, director of the Community Development Corp., which works toward the redevelopment of Lexington Park. “I was very pleased when they notified me of the resurfacing so soon after the streetscaping. So this was excellent timing,” she said. Great Mills Road from Route 235 to St. Mary's Square was recently resurfaced, along with other safety improvements.
Road asphalt generally has a lifespan of eight to 10 years depending on traffic volumes, Gischlar said. SHA has a truck carrying an automated roadway analyzer that inspects all state-maintained roads one mile or longer, he said. The system looks for cracks and ruts and analyzes the best avenue to repair them. “It looks for rutting — the most obvious or the most microscopic,” he said.
Recent hot summers and abundant rains have “been beating up the roads pretty good,” he said. In the high heat of summer with heavy vehicles sitting at intersections, “you'll notice after time indentations in the roadway.”
The analyzer determines if resurfacing or patching is needed. Patching work goes down below the road's surface to make repairs.
The old way to evaluate roads was for crews to drive out and look for visual problems.
As part of the contract with Bardon Aggregate Industries, more than 5 miles of Route 234, more than a mile of Route 6 and almost 4 miles of Route 238 in St. Mary's County have already been resurfaced.