CUMBERLAND, Md. — City officials have identified funding to cover the cost of design plans for a new bridge over Fayette Street.
The two-lane bridge, which spans CSX rail lines, was closed in June 2018 following a train strike. The dispute over ownership of the bridge between the city and CSX Transportation caused construction to fail. However, repair work has been completed to open a track in early 2020.
City engineer Bobby Smith said the Maryland State Highway Administration was helpful in finding funds for design drawings and specifications.
“Speaking with National Highways, they allocate $1 million for design work when dealing with CSX,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of back and forth when dealing with CSX with their needs. You’d expect it to fall under that number, but that’s usually where they tell you to budget for it.”
After a year of design, it will take about three years before construction can begin. Smith said a new bridge at the site would cost between $5 million and $6 million.
U.S. Representative David Trone had put $4.8 million for a new bridge at the site in the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, but that money was eventually cut when Congress withdrew all plans. members.
Smith said the federal government has finally approved funding for the bridges that will be allocated to the states.
“So there’s a lot of transition money coming out,” Smith said. “It will take some time for the federal government to figure out how to allocate these transportation funds. So let’s design the thing first and then figure out how to finance it in terms of construction. This is nothing new for the process of replacing the bridges.”
Smith said the city will have to take ownership of the bridge first. By doing so, CSX is freed from ownership, which can speed up the build process.
The aging Washington and Cumberland Street Bridges are also closed and need to be replaced. Construction of a new span on Cumberland Street is expected to begin in 2023.
In addition to bridge replacements, maintenance work is required on the John J. McMullen Bridge on Frederick Street which spans the CSX lanes and the Marion Street Bridge on Interstate 68 which connects Marion Street to St. Monroe and Central Avenue.
Smith said the Marion Street Bridge experienced spalling.
“It’s basically a delamination of the concrete, just a layer on the surface,” Smith said. “Concrete is porous, so water can penetrate it. Over time, water penetrates, freezes and cracks the concrete. It falls in this case from the bottom of the bridge deck. These are minor works and we have money in the budget for that, we estimate around $100,000.
Smith said the damage is cosmetic at this point, but he doesn’t want the condition to accelerate. The work should be completed this year.