Both lanes of Md. 550 near Thurmont could open by June at the earliest -- one year after the highway initially closed by an April mudslide was opened to one lane of traffic -- according to the Maryland State Highway Administration.
Heavy snow or extreme cold could delay the work.
After heavy rains washed out a section of the highway near U.S. 15, the SHA installed a temporary traffic signal, a fence and several slope drains.
A traffic light regulates drivers on the one-lane road, which is a nuisance for Sabillasville resident Pam Regis.
Regis, who travels on Md. 550 during her daily commute to Westminster, said the temporary solutions add time and irritation to her drive.
"It's been months," Regis wrote in an email. "How long are we going to have to wait?"
Worse than the simple frustration of the closure, Regis was recently shaken by an accident she encountered on the road -- an accident she links to the singular lane and the traffic light's placement around a corner.
"It was dark," she wrote. "I had to creep around the accident, hoping that I would not encounter anyone coming in the opposite direction."
A long-term solution should be in place by summer, according to SHA, although the timing depends on winter weather.
A particularly cold or snowy season could delay the construction start by a few weeks, SHA spokesman David Buck wrote in an email.
During construction, one lane of traffic will continue to be maintained, according to SHA.
The state has obtained the erosion and sediment control permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment, another necessary step.
Drainage pipes will remain in place as part of SHA's permanent repairs, which include a concrete retaining wall, a permanent rock fence and slope-stabilizing vegetation.
So far, SHA has spent about $600,000 on repairs to the slope and the temporary traffic signal, highway administration spokesman Dave Buck wrote in an email.
An estimated cost of the total repairs will be available in the next month or so when the SHA hires a contractor for the work.
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