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Finzel Bridge will close for repairs

February 4th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

The Cumberland Times News reports, despite safety concerns expressed by the local fire department, the Maryland State Highway Administration plans to close the Finzel bridge during repair work later this year.

"SHA has included local emergency response agencies in the planning process and will continue to coordinate with them to minimize response-time delays during construction," said Charlie Gischlar, public information officer for SHA.

The bridge work will include replacement of the riding surface and repairs to other parts. Traffic will be detoured around the project. The bridge spans Interstate 68 and would be closed from June to August.

Marsh Smith, chief deputy, and Jim Raley, president, of the Eastern Garrett County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department remain concerned that their department's response times will be slowed by the closure.

"It is still a dire issue," Smith said. "If someone dies because of this I will be right there letting the family know that the state decided to go ahead and close the bridge despite my advisement not to. The reason I get so concerned about this is because I'm scared to death that I'm going to run into someone."

Smith said the longer response times of three to seven minutes will jeopardize the safety of firefighters, the community and his personal safety.

"There is little we can do to influence change. We will have to map out a plan," said Raley. 

Raley has concerns about responding to incidents south of bridge, including the area of Fourmile Ridge wind project and Savage River Lodge. 

The fire department met with SHA on Dec. 7 to discuss the bridge closure.

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